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BY  THE   SAME  AUTHOR 

FREDERIC  UVEDALE  :  A  Romance.      1901 

ITALY  AND  THE  ITALIANS.     1902 

STUDIES  IN  THE  LIVES  OF  THE  SAINTS.     1902 

THE  CITIES  OF  UMBRIA.      1905 

THE  CITIES  OF  SPAIN.      1906 


SIGISMONDO    PANDOLFO 
MALATESTA  •  LORD  OF  RIMINI 


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O    PANDOLFO 
MALATESTA  •  LORD  OF  RIMINI 

A  STUDY  OF  A  XV  CENTURY 
ITALIAN    DESPOT 

BY 

EDWARD    HUTTON 


WITH   TEN 

ILLUSTRATIONS 

IN    PHOTOGRAVURE 


-  6 


LONDON  :  J.  M.  DENT  fcf  CO.  BEDFORD  ST.  W.C. 
NEW  YORK   :    E,  P.  DUTTON  fcf   CO.   :   MCMVI 


The  Rlvenlde  Press  Limited,  Edinburgh 


TO    MY    FRIEND 

ARTHUR   SYMONS 

WITH    AFFECTIONATE    HOMAGE 

I    DEDICATE 

MY    INTENTION    IN   THIS 
BOOK. 

CORBIGNANO,  August    1906 


LIST   OF    ILLUSTRATIONS 


SIGISMONDO  MALATESTA  .... 

After  a  Medal  by  Pisanello,  in  the  British  Museum 

BAS-RELIEF,  FROM  THE  TOMB  OF  THE  ANCESTORS 

OF  SIGISMONDO  MALATESTA  . 
After  a  Photograph  by  Alinari 

SIGISMONDO    MALATESTA    KNEELING    BEFORE    S. 
SlGISMUND,  FROM  A  FRESCO  BY  PlERO  DELLA 

FRANCESCA     ..... 
After  a  Photograph  by  Alinari 

FEDERIGO  OF   URBINO,   AFTER  A  BAS-RELIEF  OF 
FIFTEENTH    CENTURY    IN    THE    BARGELLO, 

FLORENCE      ..... 

After  a  Photograph  by  Alinari 

MEDAL  BY  PISANELLO,  IN  BRITISH  MUSEUM 
THE  TOMB  OF  ISOTTA  DEGLI  ATTI 

After  a  Photograph  by  Alinari 

RELIEFS  OF  VENUS,  MERCURY,  AND  MARS 
After  a  Photograph  by  Alinari 

RELIEF  OF  DIANA  . 

After  a  Photograph  by  Alinari 

BAS-RELIEF,     FROM    CHAPEL    OF    S.    MICHAEL 
ARCHANGEL  . 

After  a  Photograph  by  Alinari 

BAS-RELIEFS,  FROM  CHAPEL  OF  S.  GAUDENZIO    . 

After  a  Photograph  by  Alinari 


Frontispiece 
To  face  page  36 

»   42 

„   „  136 

„   „  M2 

„  200 
„  206 
„  210 

„  214 
„  228 


THE    MEMOIRS 


OF    THE    MOST 


MATERIAL    TRANSACTIONS 


IN 

THE   LIFE   OF 


SIGISMONDO    PANDOLFO    MALATESTA 
LORD    OF    RIMINI 

WRITTEN    IN    TUSCAN 

BY    PIETRO     SANSEVERINO 

WITH    A    SKETCH    OF    HIS    OWN    LIFE    AND    AN    ACCOUNT 
OF    HIS    MEETING    WITH 

LEON      BATTISTA     ALBERTI 
MCCCCLXXXI 


SIGISMONDO    MALATESTA 


OFTEN  have  I  considered  with  myself  how  and  in  what 
manner  I  should  write  down  my  remembrance  of  Signer  Sigis- 
mondo  Malatesta  and  the  meditations  of  my  heart ;  whether, 
greatly  daring,  I  should  imitate  Caesar  in  his  Commentaries, 
or  follow  a  long  way  off  the  immortal  and  almost  heavenly 
page  of  Cicero ;  but  when  I  remember  that  Messer  Gaspare 
Broglio,  having  suffered  all  the  campaigns  of  Sigismondo,  has 
written  of  them  tirelessly,  omitting  nothing,  and  that  young 
Messer  Basinio  of  Parma,  lately  dead  in  Rimini,  has  already 
sung  of  him  as  Virgil  sang  of  ^Eneas,  there  seems  to  me  to  be 
no  room  for  any  further  eloquence,  and  I  think  that  I  am  the 
last  man  to  fill  my  mouth  with  an  old  music.  Therefore,  seeing 
that  already  the  whole  of  Italy  is  full  of  his  glory,  a  more 
humble  way,  a  kind  of  by-path  in  history  as  it  were,  seems 
to  be  permitted  me,  and  will  suit  me  best,  where  quietly  and 
without  the  necessity  of  filling  an  eloquent  period  with  words, 
I  may  speak  of  him  I  have  loved,  really  to  myself  as  one 
might  say,  and  meditate  a  little  as  I  write  of  him  and  of 
Italy. 

And  if,  as  certain  of  the  Pedants  pretend,  it  is  necessary 
that  all  our  modern  ways,  in  art  at  any  rate,  ought  to  be 
modelled  on  the  ancients,  I  too  may  claim  my  master,  as  well 
as  Messer  Gaspare  or  Messer  Basinio ;  for  it  was  somewhat 
in  the  fashion  I  have  proposed  to  myself,  a  little  formless 
perhaps,  recording  rather  thoughts  than  facts,  wholly  medita- 


2  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

tive  and  concerned  with  everyday  things,  that  Marcus 
Aurelius  Antoninus,  the  Emperor,  wrote  long  ago  his  own 
book,  which  has  lately  recaptured  the  world.  But  there 
again  I  must  excuse  myself,  for  Aurelius  being  a  Roman  yet 
wrote  in  Greek ;  while  I  who  have  spoken  with  Gemisthus 
Pletho  and  wandered  so  far  as  Byzantium,  and  met, — ah !  in 
my  youth, — Messer  Carlo  Marsupini  in  argument,  he  who 
knew  Latin  as  his  own  language,  shall  yet  content  myself 
with  writing  in  the  vulgar  tongue,  which  seems  to  me 
gentler  and  sweeter  and  certainly  more  in  touch  with  our 
life  than  those  old  proud  languages.  For  I  am  not  in  agree- 
ment with  Messer  Poggio  Bracciolini,  who  is  sorry  that 
Dante  Alighieri  did  not  write  his  Commedia  in  Latin; 
though  indeed,  as  it  is  said,  he  tried  to  do  so,  but  found  it, 
perhaps  as  I  have  done,  too  full  of  old  thoughts.  Yet 
indeed  it  is  only  with  a  certain  hesitation  and  care  that 
I  may  speak  the  Tuscan  tongue ;  for  I  confess  it  at  once 
I  am  of  Naples,  from  the  village  of  San  Severino,  where 
they  only  speak  their  own  language.  And  therefore  it  has 
cost  me  a  pang  not  to  write  in  Latin,  for  in  Tuscan  I  have 
no  style;  I  do  not  write  like  a  Florentine,  but,  I  fear,  like 
a  barbarian.  And  though  for  my  thoughts,  which  after  all 
I  can  but  suggest,  and,  now  I  come  to  think  it  over,  few  are 
likely  to  read,  any  style  might  seem  good  enough,  I  should 
wish  to  say  what  I  have  to  say  in  no  unworthy  manner, 
devoid  of  beauty,  but  with  a  certain  orderliness  and  sim- 
plicity. 

Here,  in  the  beautiful  gardens  of  Signer  Lorenzo's  Villa  at 
Fiesole,  I  shall  have  time  to  turn  over  the  leaves  of  my  diaries, 
and  to  put  my  thoughts  in  order,  in  the  long  days  when  I  am 
not  with  his  children,  or  in  the  twilight  when  I  do  not  walk 
with  him  or  Messer  Poliziano.  For,  strangely  enough  as  it 
seems  to  me  after  my  unrestful  life,  I  am  to  spend  my  old 
age  in  this  quiet  garden,  looking  across  the  meadows  to 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  3 

Florence  and  the  hills  of  San  Miniato,  or  in  the  winter-time 
in  the  great  library  of  the  Palace,  copying  Greek  or  turning 
the  beautiful  pages  of  the  manuscripts.  And  even  as  I  seem 
to  have  walked  into  this  garden  just  by  chance,  so  it  was 
chance  too  brought  me  to  Rimini  and,  as  it  seems,  decided 
my  life  for  me.  For  I  was  born  in  the  little  village  of  San 
Severino,  in  the  kingdom  of  Naples ;  and  my  parents  were  poor, 
but  of  good  family.  Such  wisdom  as  was  to  be  had  in  such 
a  place,  not  without  pains,  they  bought  for  me,  Pietro,  their 
only  son.  And  as  it  happened,  this  foolish  wisdom,  dearly 
bought,  undid  all  my  youth ;  and  by  no  fault  of  theirs,  for 
they  were  simple  people,  and  loved  me  well.  It  happened  thus : 
a  day's  journey  from  our  home,  in  a  tower  on  a  round  hill 
between  the  valley  and  the  sea,  an  Astrologer  lived,  whose 
name  I  think  I  never  knew ;  he  was  much  sought  after  by  the 
people  of  the  city.  My  father,  wishing  to  do  well  by  me, 
bade  him  cast  my  horoscope,  for  the  which  he  paid  him  three 
gold  Ducats. 

It  was  this  horoscope  that  spoiled  my  childhood,  and  by 
the  manifold  mercy  of  God,  using  an  art  rather  beautiful 
than  useful,  sent  me  out  into  the  world  at  fifteen  years  old, 
for  my  good,  as  I  cannot  but  think,  when  I  remember  Sigis- 
mondo  and  look  on  the  books  beside  me,  yes,  and  the  cypress 
yonder  against  that  grove  of  olives.  For  he  who  cast  my 
horoscope  said  I  should  die  "  hand-in-hand  with  youth  " ;  and 
from  that  day  my  mother  continually  expected  my  death.  It 
found  me  not ;  but  I,  weary  at  last  of  her  sadness  and  the 
watchful  eyes  of  my  father,  set  out  to  find  life,  half  under- 
standing that  he  who  will  save  his  life  must  lose  it.  So  I 
fixed  my  gaze  on  the  centre  of  the  world,  and  came  on  foot 
to  Rome.  There  I  learned  Latin  in  the  train  of  Cardinal 
Palla,  who  lifted  me  out  of  the  gutter,  but  no  farther  than 
the  lowest  step  of  his  palace.  But  I,  wishing  to  know 
Greek,  after  two  years  set  out  for  Florence,  hoping  to  find 


4  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

a  teacher  in  that  city ;  but  I  found  none,1  though  I  heard 
much  of  Gemisthus  Pletho  and  of  his  philosophy,  which,  as  I 
thought,  promised  that  Zeus  was  still  immortal.  Therefore 
I  determined  to  seek  him,  and  set  out  for  Byzantium.  Coming 
by  the  way  to  Ravenna,  where  I  took  ship,  I  who  had  first 
learned  the  verses  of  Dante  from  the  donkey-men  in  the 
streets  of  Florence,  seeing  the  candles  burning  before  the 
Crucifix  in  the  Duomo,  and  the  tomb  of  the  Divine  Poet  un- 
remembered,  thrust  my  way  through  the  women  and  sailors 
assembled  there,  for  it  was  the  hour  of  sunset,  and,  seizing 
the  candles  in  both  hands,  I  brought  them  before  the  Tomb 
of  him  who  is  the  star  of  Italy,  saying  so  that  all  might  hear, 
careless  in  my  rage :  "  Thou  art  more  worthy  than  the  Cruci- 
fied." And  they  fell  upon  me ;  but  at  last  I  came  through 
what  narrow  ways  I  knew  not  to  the  port  and  the  lagoon, 
and,  seeing  the  very  ship  in  which  I  expected  to  reach  By- 
zantium already  pulling  up  anchor,  I  swam  out  to  her  in  the 
evening,  and  came  on  board  wet  but  unhurt  save  for  sundry 
bruises,  and  with  all  my  possessions.  Nor  even  yet  can  I 
explain  my  madness,  nor  account  for  the  devil  that  urged  me 
to  such  blasphemy;  only  God,  who  knows  my  heart,  will 
pardon  the  rashness  of  a  young  man. 

After  many  days  we  came  to  Byzantium ;  and  though  I 
found  not  Gemisthus  at  that  time,  there  I  lived  seven  years, 
learning  Greek  and  copying  many  manuscripts.  But  at  last 
I  was  weary,  and  longed  for  my  own  land,  and,  taking  ship,  I 
came  to  Naples ;  but  there  I  found  my  parents  dead  and  war 
about  the  city ;  so  I  set  out  again,  and  came  to  Marseilles ;  and 
thence  I  made  my  way  to  Avignon  by  the  dangerous  ways 
of  France,  partly  for  Petrarch's  sake,  for  he  loved  the  place, 
and  there  climbed  Mont  Vertoux  for  the  sake  of  the  view — a 
foolishness  as  men  thought,  a  madness  as  some  think — but  I 

1  Yet  Chrysoloras  must  have  been  in  Florence,  and  his  schools  established 
in  Rome,  Milan,  Venice,  and  Padua  at  this  time. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  5 

have  understood,  and  have  spoken  of  this  with  Messer  Leon 
Battista  Alberti,  as  I  shall  record.  Thence  I  came  into  Ger- 
many after  many  days  in  the  forests,  where  the  only  sound  is 
the  clack  of  the  leper's  rattle,  heard  far  away,  and  the  wind 
among  the  dead  leaves.  So  it  was  with  much  pleasure  and 
curiosity  that  I  came  to  the  musical  city  of  Nuremberg.  I 
lived  there  for  a  year  and  more.  Thence  I  set  out  for  Milan ; 
but  the  Duke  Visconti  loved  me  not,  therefore  I  came  to 
Florence,  but  with  no  better  fortune  at  my  journey's  end 
save  that  I  encountered  Messer  Carlo  Marsupini,  and  disputed 
with  him  concerning  the  In  Catillnarn  of  Cicero. 

Afterwards,  thinking  to  return  to  Byzantium,  where  I 
had  many  friends,  but  wishing  first  to  visit  the  Church  of 
S.  Francesco  at  Assisi  and  to  win  the  indulgence  of  the 
Porziuncola,  for  I  have  ever  had  a  special  devotion  for  /'/ 
Povere/Io,  who  was  a  wanderer  even  as  I  have  been,  I  came 
to  Assisi,  and  afterwards  set  out  northward  across  the  Furlo 
Pass  among  the  mountains,  and  coming  to  Urbino,  where 
Guidantonio  of  Montefeltro  was  then  lord — he  who  had 
Madonna  Rengarda  of  the  Malatesta  for  wife — I  stayed 
there  for  a  month  or  more,  ever  longing  for  Byzantium,  the 
city  of  my  love :  I  remember,  it  was  very  early  in  the 
morning  and  dark  when  I  set  out  down  the  steep  way  that 
leads  from  Urbino  towards  the  sea. 

It  was  an  October  evening  when  I  came  to  Rimini,  by 
chance  almost,  as  I  have  said,  for  I  had  sought  a  ship  in 
Pesaro ;  but  none  sailed  my  way  for  a  month,  they  told  me, 
so  I  went  towards  Rimini,  since  Ancona  was  so  far,  grumbling 
at  my  luck.  I  found  the  Inn  just  within  the  gate,  and, 
having  supped,  went  forth  into  the  streets,  that  were  well 
paved  but  strait;  it  seemed  to  me  a  grey  city,  for  all  the 
windows  were  hung  with  linen. 

But  I  was  thinking  in  my  heart  of  my  wandering  life,  I 
who  was  a  Philosopher,  learned  in  the  ancient  tongues,  who 


6  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

had  written  a  commentary  on  Dante  and  could  whisper  the 
words  of  Plato.  And  I  was  sorry  when  1  remembered  that 
I  was  an  exile  and  had  no  country,  and  that  I  too  must  say 
a  little  defiantly :  "  My  country  is  the  whole  world."  When 
I  returned  to  the  Inn  there  was  some  bustle,  and  it  seemed 
they  treated  me  with  more  consideration  than  before,  for 
their  welcome  had  not  been  over-courteous ;  and  I  learned 
that  one  had  inquired  for  me,  and  they  told  me  "  Signor 
Sigismondo  has  sent  for  you " ;  then  one  offered  to  bring 
me  to  him,  but  I  would  not.  As  I  spoke  there  entered  a 
gentleman  who  bowed  very  courteously  to  me  and  asked 
how  I  did,  assured  me  my  fame  was  run  before  me,  and  that 
his  lord  earnestly  desired  my  company.  So  I  went  with 
him ;  and  we  came  to  a  fine  house,  but  simple  too,  such  as 
becomes  a  captain,  not  far  from  the  great  Piazza ;  and  I  was 
led  into  a  fine  room  hung  with  tapestries,  and  the  floor  was 
soft  with  rushes.  Then  presently  he  who  had  brought  me 
there  came  to  me,  and  bade  me  follow  him ;  and  he  led  me 
into  a  great  room,  and  one  with  the  head  of  a  god  smiled  at 
me,  and  bade  me  welcome.  Thus  I  came  into  the  house  of 
Sigismondo,  whom  I  have  loved. 


II 

THE  city  of  Rimini,  where  Sigismondo  lived  when  he  was 
not  marching  through  Italy  at  the  head  of  his  troops,  lies 
on  the  coast  of  the  Adriatic  not  far  from  the  sea  which 
breaks  there  for  many  miles  upon  a  lean  and  desolate 
shore.  Something  of  the  mysterious  melancholy  of  Hellas, 
of  Hellas  fugitive  before  the  barbarians,  seems  to  me  to 
have  reached  this  land,  across  the  waves  that  break  upon 
her  coast  and  ours. 

Here  the  family  of  Malatesta  has  ruled  for  centuries, 
coming  at  first  as  saviours  and  remaining  as  tyrants  and  lords ; 
for  when  Frederic  Barbarossa  and  the  Pope  made  treaty  to- 
gether at  Constance  in  1183,  then  the  cities  of  Italy  were 
divided  in  their  allegiance,  and  every  man,  according  to  his 
pleasure  or  his  profit,  was  a  partisan  either  of  the  Empire  or 
of  the  Pope,  but  none  stood  for  Italy ;  and  that  peace  might 
be  brought  to  the  cities  divided  thus  against  themselves, 
each  called  in  a  stranger  to  rule,  naming  him  Captain  of  the 
people,  Podesta  or  Conservitor  of  the  public  peace ;  and  he 
enrolled  under  his  banner  paid  soldiers,  who  followed  him 
whither  he  went.  It  is  precisely  these  captains  who  have 
stolen  away  Liberty  and  made  themselves  Lords  and  Princes, 
seizing  at  last  the  Government  under  the  feeble  guardian- 
ship of  Pope  or  Emperor.  Thus  fell  the  Republics  of  my 
country. 

It  was  somewhat  in  this  fashion  that  the  family  of  Mala- 
testa came  to  Rimini.  Bred  at  Penna  Billi  in  Montefeltro, 
among  the  Apennines,  we  discern  only  two  vague  figures  of 
their  race,  really  mere  names,  Ugo  and  Giovanni  of  Penna 
7 


8 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 


Billi,  in  all  the  twelfth  century;  it  is  not  till  we  come  to 
Giovanni,  famous  as  a  Captain,  whom  his  soldiers  called 
"  Malatesta,"  even  as  later  the  soldiers  named  the  peasant 
of  Cotignolo  Sforza  for  his  violence,  that  there  is  any  record 
of  the  ancestors  of  Sigismondo. 

In  the  year  1216  this  Giovanni  Malatesta  was  called  into  j 
Rimini  by  Ottone  da  Mendola,  the  Podesta,  to  defend  the 
city  against  the  people  of  Cesena.  This  he  did  so  well  that 
in  1237  he  was  himself  appointed  Podesta,  making  himself 
before  long  tryant  and  lord.  He  died  in  1247:  so  the 
Malatesti  came  to  Rimini. 

Giovanni  Malatesta  had  married  a  daughter  of  Pietro 
degli  Onesti;  she  gave  him  two  sons  and  a  daughter — to 
wit,  Malatesta  da  Verrucchio,  born  in  1212,  who  had  Verruc- 
chio  from  his  wife  Concordia,  daughter  of  Guglielmo  d'Enri- 
,  ghetto ;  Giovanni,  born  in  121 8,  who  became  Lord  of  Sogliano 
with  the  help  of  his  wife,  for  she  was  a  daughter  of  that 
house ;  and  Emilia,  of  whom  I  know  nothing. 

Malatesta  da  Verrucchio  lived  at  Verrucchio,  till  his  father, 
dying  in  1247,  ^e>  a  ^ot  Guelf,  entered  Rimini  with  his 
soldiers,  accounting  the  city  his  heritage,  and  ready  to  sup- 
port his  claim  against  the  Ghibelline  family  of  Parcitate.  It 
was  he  who,  with  his  son  Malatestino,  on  the  I3th  day  of 
December  1295,  after  fifty  years  of  fighting,  cut  the  throat 
of  Montagna  dei  Parcitati,  and  brought  back  the  Guelfs 
into  Rimini.  Our  Dante  has  spoken  of  him  in  unforgettable 
words.  Having  been  many  times  chosen  Captain  of  the 
people,  he  seized  the  supreme  power,  and  was  at  last 
acclaimed  Lord  of  Rimini ;  nor  was  he  without  support  from 
the  Pope  Boniface  VIII.,  he  who  proclaimed  that  God  had 
set  him  over  kings  and  kingdoms,  and  who,  since  Verrucchio 
was  of  his  party,  and  was  ready  to  acknowledge  his  suzer- 
ainty, confirmed  him  in  his  lordship. 

Verrucchio  lived  to  be  a    hundred  years  old,  and  was 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  9 

indeed  the  founder  of  his  house.  He  married  three  times, 
and  had  in  all  four  sons — to  wit,  Giovanni,  born  in  1245, 
surnamed  "  lo  sciancato,"  for  he  was  a  cripple ;  Paolo, 
born  in  1252,  surnamed  "il  bello,"  for  he  was  very  fair; 
Malatestino,  surnamed  "del  occhio,"  for  he  was  blinded  in 
one  eye  by  the  Greek  fire,  while  still  a  boy,  one  day  of  battle 
at  Ravenna;  and  Pandolfo,  afterwards  Lord.  These  four 
sons  Verrucchio  trained  up  as  soldiers  and  captains,  using 
them  as  weapons,  sending  them  against  his  enemies  round 
about,  and  establishing  them  as  Podesti  in  those  cities  where 
he  had  influence,  or  in  those  that  he  had  already  subdued ; 
thus  Giovanni  was  Podesta  of  Pesaro,  while  Paolo  became 
Captain  of  the  people  in  Florence;  and  in  this  way  Ver- 
rucchio taught  his  sons  to  rule;  yet  he  outlived  the  two 
elder,  leaving  his  dominion  at  last  to  Malatestino,  his 
third  son,  while  Pandolfo  succeeded  his  brother  Giovanni 
in  Pesaro. 

It  is  with  the  two  elder  brothers,  Giovanni  lo  Sciancato, 
called  Gianciotto,  and  Paolo  il  Bello,  that  we  come  upon  the 
great  tragedy  of  the  family  of  Malatesta.  It  happened  thus ; 
Giovanni,  an  hard  man  and  cruel,  as  it  is  said,  yet  valiant 
too,  fought  day  and  night  at  the  head  of  his  men  in  his 
father's  wars,  and  was  come  to  be  Podesta  of  Pesaro,  where 
he  lived,  famous  throughout  the  country  as  a  leader  and  cap- 
tain. And  just  as  the  Malatesti  had  expelled  the  Parcitati 
from  Rimini,  so  the  Polenti  of  Ravenna  sought  to  cast  out 
the  Traversari  from  that  city,  and  old  Verrucchio  sent  his 
son  Giovanni  to  help  them  in  this,  for  he  was  their  ally. 
And  when  Giovanni  had  driven  them  out  Polenta  gave  him 
his  daughter  Francesca  in  marriage  as  spoil,  for  it  was  so 
agreed  between  him  and  Verrucchio.  But  lest  she  who  was 
but  a  little  dove  should  fear  to  wed  with  a  cripple,  an  hard 
man,  and  one  seared  in  the  wars,  Giovanni  sent  his  younger 
brother,  Paolo  il  Bello,  to  be  his  substitute. 


10  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

It  is  said  that  at  first  sight,  seeing  him  pass  by  as  she 
stood  at  her  window  on  her  marriage  morning,  she  loved 
him,  and  plucked  a  red  rose  that  grew  there,  and  gave  it  to 
him,  believing  him  in  all  happiness  to  be  her  promised  lord ; 
but  as  he  took  the  flower  a  thorn  pricked  her,  so  that  a  drop 
of  blood  fell  between  them. 

Be  this  as  it  may,  after  many  days  she  became  aware  and 
found  that  not  Paolo  il  Bello  but  Giovanni  lo  Sciancato  was 
indeed  her  husband.  It  was  in  the  year  1275  that  they  were 
married.  Some  ten  years  later  Paolo,  being  then  Captain  of 
the  people  in  Florence,  and  married  to  Orabile  di  Chiagguolo, 
applied  for  leave  to  return  for  a  short  space  to  Rimini,  for  he 
was  weary  of  himself  far  from  Francesca.  There  in  the  old 
Gattolo  di  Sta.  Columba,  the  castle  of  the  Malatesti  which 
Sigismondo  pulled  down  to  build  his  Rocca,  Giovanni,  who 
had  returned  in  haste  from  Pesaro,  found  them,  the  fallen 
book  beside  them,  and  slew  them  with  his  sword  even  as 
Francesca  told  Dante,  who  has  written  over  them  the  immortal 
epitaph  that  Sigismondo  has  envied  them  so  often.1 


A 


mor  che  al  cor  gentil  ratto  s'apprende  .  .  . 
mor  che  a  nullo  amato  amar  perdona  .  .  . 
mor  condusse  noi  ad  una  morte  .   .  . 


Not  long  after  Giovanni,  who  was  not  the  man  to  mourn 
for  what  was  done  and  could  never  be  undone,  married  that 
daughter  of  Tibaldello  dei  Zambresi  of  Faenza  who  had 
been  the  wife  of  Tino  Ugolino  Fantolini.  Francesca  had 

1  This  beautiful  and  immortal  story,  told  so  tamely  by  Sansevcrino,  has 
been  the  subject  of  much  research  and  argument.  It  seems  that  while  the 
late  Luigi  Tonini,  the  well-known  humanist  of  Rimini,  was  convinced  that 
Paolo  and  Francesca  were  slain  at  Rimini  in  the  Gattolo,  some  assert, 
among  them  the  late  Monsignore  Marino  Marini,  that  it  happened  at 
S.  Arcangelo,  a  fortress  of  the  Malatesti,  and  others  say  that  Pesaro  was 
the  place.  See  Yriarte  :  Franchise  de  Rimini. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  11 

given  him  a  daughter,  named  strangely  as  we  may  think, 
Concordia,  while  his  second  wife  brought  him  two  sons. 
Giovanni  died  in  1304,  Pesaro  passing  at  his  death  back 
into  the  power  of  the  Holy  See.  But  Verrucchio  never 
relinquished  anything  he  had  once  set  his  teeth  in.  Pope 
Benedict  XI.  was  just  dead,  and  the  Throne  stood  vacant  for 
eleven  months  before  Clement  V.,  he  who  went  to  Avignon, 
was  elected ;  so  Verrucchio  threw  himself  on  Pesaro,  and 
taking  it,  left  Pandolfo,  his  youngest  son,  there  as  Podesta. 

Verrucchio  himself  came  to  die  at  last  in  1312.  This 
great  and  splendid  old  man  was  a  hundred  years  old  at  the 
time  of  his  death.  It  was  of  him  that  Sigismondo  ever 
thought  as  founder  of  the  family  and  the  dominion,  for 
indeed  it  was  he  who  taught  to  all  his  house  the  arts  of  war 
and  government.  To  him  succeeded  Malatestino,  the  brutal 
and  cunning  victor  of  Cervia,  which  he  added  to  his  dominion. 
He  ruled  but  five  years,  and  in  his  turn  was  succeeded  by 
his  brother  Pandolfo,  who  in  his  wars  added  Sinigaglia,  Fano, 
and  Fossombrone  to  his  Pesaro,  so  that  he  looked  further, 
and  would  have  brought  the  whole  March  of  Ancona  under 
his  rule,  but  that  Clement  V.,  fearing  for  his  states,  which 
Pandolfo,  under  the  shadow  of  the  Guelf  banner,  would 
certainly  have  taken,  sent  Bertrand  de  Got  of  the  Marches 
against  him,  who  was  alternately  victor  and  vanquished,  in 
flight  to-day,  but  returning  to-morrow,  till  in  1314  Clement 
died,  and  the  Throne  being  vacant,  and  none  to  urge  them 
on,  they  fought  for  the  sake  of  fighting,  till  in  1325  Pandolfo 
was  invested  with  his  lordship  by  a  Bull  of  John  XXII.  But 
their  war  ceased  not  for  this  investiture,  for  they  were  in 
love  with  fighting,  and  would  not  be  at  peace,  till  at  last 
they  danged  down  to  death. 

Pandolfo  had  two  sons,  though  I  know  not  whom  he 
married:  their  names  were  Pandolfo,  surnamed  Guastafamiglia, 
born  in  1295,  and  Galeotto,  born  in  1302. 


12  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

Now  the  Papacy  was  far  away  in  Avignon,  and  Pope 
Benedict  XII.  just  dead,  so  that  the  power  of  the  Holy  See 
seemed  to  be  no  more  in  Italy,  therefore  Guastafamiglia, 
desiring  some  authority  to  support  his  claims  to  Ancona, 
Jesi,  Ascoli,  Sinigaglia,  and  so  forth,  through  the  March  of 
Ancona,  turned  to  the  Emperor  Lewis  of  Bavaria  in  1342, 
who  made  him  a  vicar  of  the  Empire,  drawing  his  right 
from  the  Emperor.  But  at  last,  in  1355,  Pope  Innocent  VI. 
sent  the  great  Spaniard,  Cardinal  Albornoz,  to  Romagna,  who 
laid  waste  the  cities  and  brought  the  Malatesti  low.  This 
terrible  Captain  Gil  Alvarez  Carillo  di  Albornoz  was  related 
to  the  royal  houses  of  Leon  and  Aragon :  he  was  born  at 
Cuenca.  While  still  a  young  man  he  was  made  Archbishop 
of  Toledo  by  Alfonso  XI.  of  Castile,  whose  life  he  is  said  to 
have  saved  at  Tarifa  in  battle  with  the  Moors  in  1 340.  After 
the  siege  of  Algeciras,  which  he  conducted  successfully,  he 
was  made  knight.  Pedro  el  Cruel,  as  I  have  heard,  hated 
him,  because  he  rebuked  him  for  his  licentious  life,  and  on 
this  account  he  fled  to  the  Pope  at  Avignon,  Clement  VI. 
it  was,  a  learned  man,  who  made  him  Cardinal.  We  may 
now  see  clearly  enough  that  it  was  to  prepare  the  way  for 
the  return  of  the  Papacy  that  Albornoz  was  sent  to  Italy 
in  1355.  For  Innocent  VI.  saw  in  the  condition  of  Italy,  and 
especially  of  Rome,  a  chance  to  re-establish  a  temporal  king- 
dom, the  first  necessity  of  which  was  his  return  to  Rome. 
Albornoz  fell  on  Romagna  like  a  thunderstorm,  sweeping  the 
world.  He  was  a  soldier-priest,  he  prayed  as  he  fought  furi- 
ously. He  flung  back  the  Malatesti  from  hilltop  after  hilltop ; 
he  crushed  them  in  the  narrow  valleys  and  scattered  them  in 
the  plains ;  one  by  one  the  fair  cities  fell  from  their  grasp, 
until  at  Gubbio  Albornoz  took  Galeotto  Malatesta  prisoner, 
seizing  thus  all  their  dominion  under  one  crown.  But  Guasta- 
famiglia, remembering  his  vicariate,  appealed  to  the  Emperor, 
and  to  the  Florentines,  whose  armies  he  had  commanded. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  13 

They  bade  him  negotiate,  promising  him  support;  so  that 
the  Pope,  face  to  face  with  Emperor  and  Republic,  gave 
Guastafamiglia  and  Galeotto  his  own  investiture,  and  made 
them  his  vicars,  giving  Rimini  to  Galeotto,  and  Pesaro  to 
Guastafamiglia.  Then,  as  I  have  heard,  he  turned  to  Al- 
bornoz,  and  demanded  the  spoils  of  the  cities  he  had  taken, 
with  their  tribute;  and  the  Cardinal,  in  a  rage,  caused  a 
waggon  to  be  loaded  with  the  keys  of  those  cities,  and  sent 
them  to  the  Pope. 

Galeotto  saw  that  the  Pope  was  once  more  powerful  in 
Italy,  for  after  the  victories  of  Albornoz,  Urban  V.  returned 
to  Rome,  to  the  joy  of  all  save  his  Cardinals,  in  1367;  not 
for  long  however,  for  three  years  later,  Albornoz  being  dead 
he  was  back  in  Avignon,  where  he  died  three  months  after 
his  return.  It  remained  for  his  successor,  Gregory  XL,  to 
decide  once  for  all  whether  the  Holy  See  should  be  any  more 
a  power  in  Italy.  Not  without  fear,  then,  he  set  out,  entering 
Rome  at  last  in  1377,  led  back  by  the  hand  of  St  Catherine, 
of  which  sight  Galeotto  was  a  witness,  as  it  is  said,  and  was 
strangely  moved  thereby,  so  that  he  grew  ardent  for  the 
Holy  See,  and  by  leave  of  Gregory  added  in  that  same  year 
Cesena,  Cervia,  and  Bertinoro  to  his  lordship.  Yet  indeed 
Gregory's  return  was  like  to  prove  as  unfortunate  as  Urban's ; 
for  he  found  Rome  a  ruin,  and  the  people  starving,  while  his 
troops  were  powerless  against  the  league  of  the  Florentines, 
who  raised  all  Italy  against  his  Frenchmen.  Finding  himself 
in  this  case,  he  determined  to  return  to  Avignon,  and  was 
indeed  about  to  set  out  thither  when  he  died. 

Then  followed  the  years  of  the  Great  Schism  so  disastrous 
for  Christendom,  robbing  the  Church  of  her  unity,  and 
giving,  as  I  have  thought,  new  life  to  that  illegitimacy  which 
has  been  the  greatest  misfortune  of  our  country.  In  those 
days  the  Malatesti  were  for  the  Holy  See  in  Rome,  raising . 
the  people  of  Cesena  against  Robert  of  Geneva,  afterwards 


14  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

antipope,  whose  watch  ward  was  "Blood,  blood,  and  justice," 
though  the  last  he  never  had  from  us,  nor  we  from  him. 

Galeotto  had  married  in  1363  Gentile  Verrano,  who 
brought  him  four  sons  and  four  daughters  to  wit — Carlo,  born 
in  1364;  Pandolfo,  born  in  1370;  Andrea,  born  in  1373;  and 
Galeotto,  born  in  1377;  Madonna  Gentile,  who  married 
Giovanni  Galeazzo  d'Astorre  Manfredi  of  Faenza ;  Madonna 
Margherita,  who  married  Ludovico  Gonzaga;  Madonna 
Ricciarda,  who  married  Maso  di  Pietra  Mala ;  and  Madonna 
Rengarda,  who  married  Guidantonio  of  Urbino.  For  his 
sons,  Carlo  took  Rimini,  when  his  father  died  in  1385; 
Pandolfo  had  Fano;  Andrea,  Cesena  and  Bertinoro;  while 
Galeotto  took  Cervia,  Meliola  and  Borgo  S.  Sepolcro. 

I  have  thought  well  to  tell  thus  much  concerning  the 
ancestors  of  Sigismondo,  those  ancestors  whom  he  has  ever 
held  in  such  honour,  that  whosoever  may  chance  upon  this 
manuscript  may  fully  understand  of  what  a  race  Sigismondo 
was  sprung ;  but  now  that  I  am  come  to  write  his  father's 
name  and  the  name  of  his  uncle,  I  know  not  well  how  to 
continue,  for  in  them  I  discern  how  clearly  the  very  ghost  of 
him  I  have  loved,  and  I  am  fearful  lest  after  all  I  should  with 
my  poor  skill  rob  these  two  Signori  of  life,  who  were  so  full 
of  vitality — a  new  sort  of  vitality,  that  seems  to  me  to  dis- 
tinguish the  men  of  our  own  time  from  those  of  the  fourteenth 
century,  or  indeed  of  any  other  age  since  the  fall  of  Rome. 

Pandolfo  Malatesta,  Sigismondo's  father,  was  but  fifteen 
years  old  when  Galeotto  died,  leaving  him  Fano  for  his  heri- 
tage. His  elder  brother,  Carlo,  had  at  the  age  of  twenty-one 
succeeded  to  the  lordship  of  Rimini,  and  those  old  castles  and 
estates  never  divided  from  the  city.  Carlo  at  any  rate,  and 
as  it  might  seem  in  a  lesser  degree  Pandolfo  too,  had  been 
educated  by  Messer  Leonardo  degli  Allegretti,  who  took 
refuge  in  Rimini  when  ForR  cast  him  out  as  a  Guelf.  A  man 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  15 

already  eager  for  the  more  human  learning  of  an  age  he  died 
too  soon  to  see.  Carlo  was  a  soldier  of  fortune,  and  often  in 
his  company  Pandolfo  went  forth  to  fight  in  whatever  cause 
pleased  Carlo ;  of  all  the  Malatesti  they  seem  to  have  loved 
one  another  best.  And  it  appears  to  have  been  ever  thus  in 
Romagna,  that  if  a  fragile  peace  wearied  them  they  sought 
service  in  another  cause ;  it  was  so  with  Carlo  and  Pandolfo 
Malatesta.  At  first  they  followed  Visconti,  Gian  Galeazzo, 
dreaming  perhaps,  as  Sigismondo  has  sometimes  done,  of  a 
United  Italy  to  be  formed  under  Milan  or  the  Church ;  and 
indeed  in  those  days  there  remained  no  power  in  Italy  save 
Florence  to  stand  against  Visconti  and  his  generals.  Later 
Carlo  took  command  of  the  troops  of  Francesco  Gonzaga, 
whose  daughter  he  had  married,  but  Pandolfo  still  followed 
the  fortunes  of  Milan. 

At  last,  in  the  plague  which  fell  onLombardy  in  1402,  Gian 
Galeazzo  died,  though  indeed  he  fled  to  the  castle  of  Marig- 
nano  to  escape  it ;  for  great  though  he  was  he  was  ever  made 
coward  by  the  thought  of  death,  so  that  he  never  went  into 
battle,  but  left  all  to  his  generals,  directing  them  from  afar. 
Then  that  fine  thought,  the  unity  of  Italy,  which  his  enemies 
ever  translated  into  the  enslavement  of  our  country,  passed 
from  men's  minds,  and  those  generals,  impregnable  under  his 
hand,  seized  what  they  were  able  of  his  vast  dominion,  and 
many  of  those  families  he  had  dispossessed  returned,  such  as 
the  Scotti,  to  Piacenza. 

Now  Pandolfo,  hearing  that  Facino  Cane  held  Alessandria, 
and  would  not  let  it  go,  and  seeing  that  Gian  Maria  and  his 
brother  Filippo,  the  heirs  of  Gian  Galeazzo,  were  but  children, 
while  the  Duchess  Caterina  with  her  paramour  Barbavara 
ruled  in  Milan,  thought  to  secure  something  for  himself;  but 
he  was  not  fortunate.  Wandering  at  large  with  his  men,  he 
came  to  Monza,  which  he  seized,  and  later  took  Brescia  also. 
In  Milan  they  proclaimed  Gian  Maria  Duke,  he  whose  lust 


16  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

was  insatiable  in  its  cruelty,  and  who  chased  men  with  the 
dogs  of  Squarcia  Giramo ;  not  for  long,  however,  for  in  1412 
the  nobles  of  Milan  fell  upon  him,  and  having  killed  him, 
flung  his  body  into  the  street.  It  is  said  there  was  no  one 
to  bury  him  till  a  woman  came,  and  having  covered  his  body 
with  roses,  bore  it  away ;  and  men  said  she  must  have  been 
a  prostitute,  since  none  but  such  loved  him.  So  Filippo 
became  Duke  in  Milan. 

Pandolfo  held  Brescia  for  seventeen  years,  and  there  his 
three  sons  were  born — Galeotto  in  1411  by  Madonna 
Allegra  di  Mori,  one  of  his  mistresses ;  while  another  lady 
Madonna  Antonia,1  of  noble  family,  daughter  of  Giacomo  da 
Barignano,  gave  birth  on  iQth  June  1417  to  Sigismondo 
Pandolfo,  and  a  year  later  to  Domenico,  known  to  all  as 
Malatesta  Novello. 

So  it  was  in  the  year  1417,  at  Brescia,  that  Signor  Sigis- 
mondo was  born  of  a  mother  who  was  not  his  father's  wife ; 
nor,  as  it  seems  to  me,  who  have  known  and  loved  Sigismondo, 
did  he  ever  regret  this  fact  concerning  his  birth,  though  it 
brought  him  trouble  enough  later.  His  father  had  married 
twice,  and  later,  at  the  earnest  entreaty  of  his  brother,  he 
married  a  third  time,  but  he  had  no  children  by  his  wives. 
He  remained  in  Brescia  till,  a  little  weary  of  the  struggle 
against  Filippo  Visconti,  who  was  busy  reconstructing  his 
dominion,  gathering  around  him,  as  his  father  had  done,  many 
generals,  he  was  turned  out  by  one  of  them,  Francesco  Busone, 
famous  as  Carmagnola.  But  Carlo  Malatesta  being  friends 
with  Milan,  and  Pope  Martin  V.,  then  in  that  city  on  his  way 
into  Italy  from  Constance,  being  eager  for  peace,  Pandolfo 
was  reconciled  to  Visconti,  and  returned  with  Madonna 
Antonia  and  his  children  to  Fano. 

1  See  Battaglini :  Basini  Parmensis  Poetae  Opera  :  Arimini  1744,  vol.  ii. 
p.  274.  Clementini,  Raccolto  Istorico  della  Fondatione  di  Rimino,  Rimini 
1617,  vol.  ii.  p.  299,  suggests  two  other  ladies. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  17 

Sigismondo  was  two  years  old  when  he  first  came  to 
Fano,  and  ten  when  in  1427,  his  father  Pandolfo  being 
dead,  he  went  to  live  in  the  house  of  his  uncle,  Carlo 
Malatesta  at  Rimini. 

Carlo  Malatesta  was  a  man  of  austere  heart,  passionately 
religious.  He  had  fought  for  Visconti  and  for  Venice ;  but 
when  in  1408  Pope  Gregory  XII.  on  the  eve  of  the  Council 
of  Pisa,  took  refuge  in  Rimini,  Carlo  became  his  champion, 
journeying  in  the  next  year  to  Pisa  on  his  behalf  in  an 
endeavour  to  make  terms  between  the  Pope  and  the  Council. 
In  this  he  was  unsuccessful;  but  when  John  XXIII.  anti- 
pope  and  adventurer,  Baldassare  Cossa,  that  robber  who 
worked  by  night  and  slept  only  at  dawn,  tried  to  win  him 
to  his  side  against  the  true  Pope  Gregory,  Carlo  made 
answer  that  he  could  not,  since  Cossa  was  not  fit  to  be 
Pope,  and  if  he  were  there  was  a  Pope  already :  thus  with 
Ladislas  of  Naples  he  stood  for  the  Church  in  Italy. 
Among  all  the  Princes  of  Italy  at  that  time  he  alone  seems 
to  have  done  his  utmost  to  end  the  Schism.  And  at  last, 
weary  of  the  struggle,  Gregory  sent  him  as  his  representa- 
tive to  the  Council  of  Constance,  there  to  make  his  abdica- 
tion. 

He  was  a  soldier  too,  and  a  great  one ;  yet  Fortebraccio, 
who  had  served  under  Alberigo  da  Barbiano,  defeated  him, 
when,  with  Galeotto  his  brother's  son,  but  five  years  old,  in 
his  train,  he  went  to  help  the  Perugians  against  their  country- 
man in  1416.  Messer  Paolo  Uccello  has  painted  more  than 
one  picture  of  this  battle,  called  of  St  Egidio,  since  it  was 
fought  near  that  place  close  to  Assisi  on  the  Tiber.  Here 
Carlo  was  taken  prisoner,  and  Galeotto  with  him.  You  may 
see  him  in  one  of  Messer  Paolo's  pictures  riding  under 
the  banner  of  Fortebraccio,  through  the  fields  of  Umbria 
by  a  hedge  of  roses  mixed  with  pomegranates  and  oranges, 
which  certainly  do  not  grow  there  now ;  while  the  young 


18  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

Galeotto  carries  his  bassinet  in  his  hand.1  Carlo  with  his 
nephew  was  ransomed,  in  part  by  Guidantonio  of  Urbino, 
who  was  to  be  the  implacable  enemy  of  his  house,  and  later 
he  became  vicar  of  the  Church  and  Guardian  of  Romagna 
for  the  Pope. 

How  often  has  Sigismondo  told  me  stories  of  his  father 
and  his  uncle,  contrasting  their  characters,  for  he  revered 
them  both,  but  his  father  had  his  love. 

Thus  he  would  recount  with  I  knew  not  what  pride  that 
the  Florentine  Ambassador  praised  them  as  men  of  learning 
and  the  friends  of  scholars ;  and  indeed  they  wrote  in  Latin 
and  understood  the  French  tongue.  And  he  would  tell  me 
how  Messer  Simone  di  Ser  Dino  da  Siano,  orator  of  the 
Tartaglia  chapel,  came  one  day  into  his  father's  company, 
and,  thinking  to  puzzle  him,  recited  some  sonnets  in  three 
tongues,  but  Pandolfo  heard  him,  and  replied  as  seemed 
good  to  him.  Or  again,  how  one  day  the  Marchese  Nicolo 
d'Este,  having  invited  Carlo  and  Pandolfo  with  their  brother- 
in-law  Francesco  Gonzaga  to  dinner,  there  came  also  Messer 
Giacomo  da  Reggio,  the  learned  physician ;  and  Pandolfo, 
who  delighted  in  learning,  and  honoured  it,  stood  up,  and 
begged  Nicolo  d'Este  to  give  the  first  place  to  science.  Or 
again,  he  would  tell  me  how  he  corresponded  in  Latin  with 
Madonna  Isotta  Nogarola,  who  had  lent  him  a  book  of 
Plutarch's. 

Then  speaking  of  Carlo,  who  was  an  austere  man  and 
loved  the  Church,  he  has  told  me,  laughing  the  while,  yet 
with  a  sort  of  protest  too  very  characteristic  of  him,  how 
Carlo  Malatesta,  entering  Mantua  one  day  of  October  at 
the  head  of  his  troops,  found  that  the  people  had  built 
an  altar  under  the  statue  of  Virgil,  and  set  flowers  and 

1  The  picture  Sanseverino  describes  seems  to  be  the  one  now  in  the 
National  Gallery ;  but  there  are  two  others,  one  in  the  Louvre  and  one  in 
the  Uffizi. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  19 

candles  before  it;  and,  suddenly  angry  at  this  idolatry,  he 
bade  his  men  seize  the  statue  and  throw  it  into  the  Mincio ; 
the  which  they  did,  and  even  till  to-day  there  is  no  statue 
to  that  divine  poet  in  Mantua. 

The  people  called  him  Marcus  Cato,  but  they  loved  him ; 
and  though  he  was  fond  rather  of  theology  than  of  poetry 
or  philosophy,  he  gave  laws  to  Rimini  which  stand  even 
now.  He  was  the  friend  too  of  Messer  Giovanni  Malpighini, 
who  had  known  Petrarch;  while  at  Rimini  in  the  Gattolo 
he  founded  the  first  Academia  in  Italy,  and  copied  manuscripts 
with  his  own  hand.  He  was  a  mystic  too,  and  spoke  in 
parable,  and  as  Sigismondo  always  thought  it  was  he  who 
influenced  Galeotto,  so  that  he  thought  more  of  his  soul 
than  of  his  lordship,  and  of  his  death  than  his  life.  He 
fought  hard  for  the  Holy  See  at  Pisa,  at  Constance,  and  in 
battle  too ;  but  his  descendants  got  little  by  that,  for  if  Carlo 
supported  the  Pope  at  Pisa,  it  was  another  Pope  who  robbed 
his  heirs  of  half  their  lordship.  Martin  V.  gave  him  his 
niece  in  marriage,  but  she  was  barren ;  while  Eugenius  IV. 
gave  him  the  Golden  Rose — it  was  all  they  gave ;  and  when 
Carlo  besought  the  Pope  to  legitimise  his  brother's  children, 
not  once  nor  twice  but  many  times,  and  went  to  Rome  and 
humbled  himself  for  this  favour,  all  he  got  was  the  Pope's 
leave  to  leave  his  own  to  whom  he  would. 

These  things  and  more  Sigismondo  has  told  me  in  the 
evenings  on  the  ramparts  when  the  moon  comes  up  out  of 
the  sea  like  some  mysterious  goddess  and  the  songs  in  the 
city  are  still. 


Ill 

THE  Gattolo  de'  Malatesti  at  Rimini  where  Galeotto, 
Sigismondo  and  Domenico,  the  sons  of  Pandolfo,  came  to 
live  under  the  guardianship  of  their  uncle,  Carlo  Malatesta, 
was  the  old  fortress  of  the  Malatesta  family  just  within  the 
walls  to  the  west  of  the  city,  which  lay  between  it  and  the 
sea.  Not  without  a  sort  of  beauty,  as  I  know,  the  rude, 
fierce  beauty  of  a  fortress  built  for  defence,  with  something 
too  of  the  distinction  that  age  lends  even  to  a  building  so 
rambling,  so  contrived  as  it  were,  added  to  as  it  had  been 
from  time  to  time,  its  outward  aspect  at  any  rate  was  one 
of  almost  brutal  strength  and  endurance,  that  had  withstood 
fire  and  assault,  and  had  ever  defied  the  conqueror.  In  its 
walls  no  enemy  had  ever  made  a  breach;  and  it  may  well 
be  that  something  of  the  security,  which  the  knowledge  of 
that  ancient  invincibility  taught  to  its  possessors,  encouraged 
in  them  a  natural  inclination  to  surround  themselves  with 
beautiful  things,  to  make  themselves  at  home  there,  as  the 
Germans  might  say,  but  in  a  way  no  German  has  yet  been 
able  to  understand. 

For  the  humanism  of  Carlo,  Lord  of  Rimini,  expressed 
itself  not  only  in  the  study  of  languages,  a  delight  in 
Literature,  and  the  learning  that  was  just  then  coming  into 
the  world,  but  in  a  love  of  Art  also,  of  painting  at  anyrate, 
so  that  he  covered  the  rude  walls,  hung  till  then  with  arras 
and  cloths,  with  pictures  in  fresco;  and  as  it  happened  at 
that  time — to  wit,  in  1400 — the  plague  raging  in  Florence,  a 
certain  craftsman  of  that  city,  Messer  Lorenzo  Ghiberti, 
later  to  be  so  famous,  came  into  Romagna  with  another 

20 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  21 

painter,  whose  name  I  know  not,  and  worked  in  a  chamber 
of  the  old  Castle,  covering  the  walls  with  paintings,  at  the 
suggestion,  as  Sigismondo  has  told  me,  of  his  father,  but 
certainly  not  without  the  eager  consent  of  Carlo,  who  was 
Lord.  Thus  it  was  in  Rimini  that  the  first  works  of  the 
famous  Florentine  were  accomplished,  for  indeed  he  hurried 
back  thence  at  the  earnest  entreaty  of  his  father  to  compete 
with  Messer  Filippo  Brunelleschi  for  the  design  of  the  gates 
of  S.  Giovanni  Battista  in  Florence. 

It  was  in  the  presence  of  work  so  fine  as  that  of  Messer 
Lorenzo  Ghiberti  that  Sigismondo  grew  up  with  his  younger 
brother  Domenico  for  playmate,  while  Galeotto  was  at  the 
wars  with  his  uncle.  And  as  we  may  think  such  work  could 
not  but  influence  him  deeply,  full  as  it  was  of  the  new 
spirit,  that  in  reality  was  so  old,  older  almost  than  anything 
else  around  him,  save  the  hills,  the  fields,  and  the  sea  which 
so  few  have  cared  for,  or  that  old  arch  of  Augustus  and  the 
Roman  bridge  across  the  Marecchia,  which  seem  to  possess 
in  themselves  something  of  the  strong  eternal  beauty  of 
natural  things,  that  come  to  me  with  so  much  pathos,  so 
pensively  as  it  were ;  so  that  I  understood  Messer  Leon 
Battista  Alberti  at  once  when  he  told  me  that,  looking  on 
the  autumn  fields,  he  wept,  he  knew  not  why. 

There  in  those  old  chambers  hung  with  arms  gleaming 
grimly  on  winter  evenings  in  the  dim  light  of  the  braziers, 
half  full  of  the  white  ashes  of  the  olive-root,  while  on  a 
great  table  here  and  there  lay  a  Book  of  Hours  or  the 
Sonnets  of  Petrarch,  Sigismondo  wandered  as  a  boy, 
wondering  often  at  the  beautiful  armour,  breathlessly 
delighted  when  now  and  then  his  uncle  would  place  on 
his  head  some  battered  helmet  and  dress  him  in  the  cuirass 
of  old  Verrucchio  or  arm  him  with  some  antique  sword. 
Often  as  he  lay  in  his  chair  in  the  twilight  watching  the 
lad  "playing  at  soldiers,"  a  little  weary  perhaps  of  the 


22  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

intrigues  that  had  been  thrust  upon  him,  that  it  was 
necessary  for  him  to  pursue  in  his  old  age  after  a  life  of 
action,  lest  Galeotto,  who  seemed  never  to  be  so  happy  as 
when  turning  the  pages  of  the  service  books  or  reading 
the  lives  of  the  Saints,  flitting  here  and  there  like  a  ghost 
almost  among  the  great  shadows,  should  with  his  brothers 
lose  his  heritage — Carlo,  looking  at  Sigismondo,  as  I  have 
heard,  would  smile  to  himself,  as  though  in  his  heart  he  was 
sure  that  he  who  played  at  fighting  with  so  much  earnest- 
ness might  after  all  be  trusted  to  retain  his  own  by  the 
only  means  recognised  at  that  time,  and  even  now  too  for 
that  matter,  as  of  indisputable  right,  the  indomitable  courage 
of  his  heart,  the  strength  of  his  right  hand. 

And  there  would  be  stories  too,  stories  of  the  family,  of 
their  adventures,  of  the  fights  of  old  Verrucchio,  or  of 
Signer  Carlo's  own  youth — of  the  coming  to  Rimini,  of  the 
fugitive  Pope,  of  the  adventures  of  Signer  Pandolfo,  their 
father,  when  he  and  Carlo,  two  boys  together,  took  service 
in  Lombardy.  And  then  what  breathless,  nay  tearful  fasci- 
nation lay  in  the  story  of  Paolo  and  Francesca,  of  Giovanni 
the  hunchback,  who  slew  them  because  they  loved  one 
another.  How  often  would  Sigismondo  clamour  for  that 
tale  at  bed-time,  when  Carlo  was  about  to  dismiss  them, 
knowing  that  his  uncle  was  as  fascinated  by  it  as  himself. 
Then  Carlo,  taking  from  its  place  the  beautiful  copy  of 
Dante's  Divina  Commedia,  which  was  the  spoil  of  war, 
would  read  to  them,  half  bewildered,  the  beautiful  tremulous 
words,  while  Sigismondo,  a  little  lad,  at  his  uncle's  feet, 
rocked  himself  to  the  cadence  of  the  verses,  only  dimly  in 
some  far-off  way  comprehending  their  meaning,  but  moved 
by  them  nevertheless,  the  tears  at  last  shining  in  his  eyes. 

More  than  once  in  those  days,  the  story  ended,  Sigismondo 
had  asked  :  "  And  was  it  here,  sir,  that  this  befell  ? " 

And  Carlo,  looking  at  him  over  the  great  leaves  of  the 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  23 

book,  would  answer :  "  Here  in  the  Gattolo,  in  the  room  in 
the  tower  that  is  always  closed." 

But  when  Sigismondo  had  asked  to  be  shown  the  place 
Carlo  had  hesitated,  and  at  last  dismissed  them  without 
answering  directly  ;  for  indeed  that  door  was  ever  kept  shut. 

But  on  one  of  those  winter  evenings  when  the  wind  blew 
shrewdly  round  the  old  Gattolo,  and  the  moan  of  the  sea 
came  from  afar  across  the  city,  and  the  rain  beat  hard 
upon  the  windows,  and  the  yelping  of  the  wolves  could  be 
heard  now  and  again  without  the  walls,  his  uncle  being  in 
Rome  with  Signer  Nicole  d'Este,  anxious  too  for  the 
legitimation  of  his  heir,  Sigismondo  had,  by  what  means  I 
know  not,  obtained  the  key  of  the  room  in  the  tower,  and 
creeping  up  the  stairway  long  after  he  was  thought  to  be 
asleep,  startled  often  by  the  weird,  leaping  shadows  cast 
by  the  moonlight  that  streamed  now  and  then  through  the 
racing  clouds,  reached  that  mysterious  door,  and  at  last, 
summoning  all  his  courage,  turned  the  key,  and  in  the  un- 
certain light  gazed  into  the  great  chamber  that  had  been 
the  apartment  of  Madonna  Francesca  of  the  Polente.  If 
you  can  imagine  how  an  imaginative  boy  come  to  so  dread- 
ful, so  fascinating  a  spot,  might,  on  such  a  night  certainly, 
have  an  inkling  that  he  saw  more  than  was  actually  there — 
the  stains  of  blood  on  the  floor,  or  Francesca  herself  perhaps, 
who  was  really  only  present  in  his  heart — you  may  conceive 
aright  the  impression  Sigismondo  received  from  this  adven- 
ture, of  which  he  has  told  me  he  has  spoken  to  no  one  but 
myself,  nor  did  he  ever  return  there  again. 

When  Carlo  returned  in  summer-time,  those  long,  languor- 
ous summer  days,  when  the  wind  from  the  sea  seems  to  linger 
so  thoughtlessly,  on  its  way  to  the  stifled  city,  they  would 
start  sometimes,  early  in  the  morning,  a  joyful  company,  the 
old  man  and  his  nephews,  for  a  little  villa  on  the  coast,  where 
under  the  shadow  of  the  pines,  a  whole,  new,  delightful  world 


24  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

lay  ready  for  discovery.  While  Carlo  was  engaged  in 
business,  or  talking  to  some  ambassador  with  Galeotto  beside 
him,  Sigismondo  and  Domenico  would  wander  away  on  the 
sea  shore,  or  ride  races  along  the  sands,  or,  building  a  castle 
on  the  beach,  defend  or  attack  it,  leading  their  companions. 
There  were  surprising  things  to  be  found  too  on  that 
mysterious  and  desolate  coast:  the  skull  of  some  pirate, 
perhaps  cast  up  by  the  sea,  as  Carlo  told  them,  tapping  it 
gently,  when  they  brought  it  to  him  in  triumph,  interrupting 
him,  it  may  be,  in  graver  business.  And  once  Sigismondo 
happened  upon  a  fragment  of  ancient  marble,  a  little  hand 
lying  there  softly  on  the  sand,  among  the  shells  fretted  by 
the  wind  or  the  clinging,  damp  sea-weeds,  that  the  sun  was 
fast  shrivelling  up.  As  he  lifted  it  eagerly  some  new 
emotion  seemed  to  awake  in  his  heart,  so  that  he  hid  it  in 
his  bosom  without  telling  anyone  of  his  discovery,  and  for  days 
after  would  take  it  out  often  to  look  at  it  again,  so  beautiful 
it  was.  Then  there  was  the  abandoned  galley,  with  its 
bronze  plates  eaten  away  by  the  sea  and  the  weather,  so  that 
in  places  the  wood  was  stained  with  the  precious  metal;  and 
already  the  anemones  had  made  it  their  prey,  peering  shyly 
and  wistfully  from  its  crevices  in  the  sea-v/ind,  really  the 
representatives  of  a  whole  kingdom  of  such  things  which  fall 
upon  the  dead,  as  I  seem  to  understand,  but,  as  the  lads  told 
one  another,  not  without  awe,  the  souls  of  those  sailors  that  had 
passed  into  another  life,  the  life  of  the  flowers,  perhaps  for 
some  crime  which  condemned  them  to  a  state  so  narrow,  ever 
at  the  mercy  of  autumn  and  winter,  that  seemed  to  die  daily, 
and  yet  never  really  to  pass  away.  One  day  in  the  woods 
they  came  upon  the  cave  of  these  sailors  as  they  supposed,  a 
charming  and  delightful  place,  hidden  among  the  brambles, 
partly  built  of  pine  and  logs,  partly  hewn  out  of  the  rock  and 
the  tufa  of  a  Roman  tumulus.  And,  scrambling  there  in  their 
games,  they  found  a  bag  of  gold  pieces,  stamped  with  the 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  25 

debased  head  of  one  of  the  later  Emperors,  and  later,  in 
searching  further,  they  discovered  a  coffer  full  of  swords, 
that  fell  into  red  dust,  magically  almost,  when  they  tried  to 
draw  them  out,  seizing  on  them  with  shouts  of  delight. 

Was  that  a  parable,  as  it  were,  of  what  his  life  must  be 
— one  of  those  hints  as  to  the  future  that,  as  he  thought, 
occasionally  came  to  him,  perhaps  from  the  stars  whom  he 
has  invoked  not  without  a  real  and  naive  earnestness,  a  belief 
in  their  influence  over  the  lives  of  men  ?  Certainly  he  came 
upon  many  rare  and  valuable  things,  and  sought, how  eagerly, 
to  possess  them,  but  when  he  would  have  grasped  them  they 
dissolved  into  dust  under  his  hands,  leaving  just  a  red  stain,  or 
a  bitter  sense  of  defeat,  of  the  enmity  of  the  Gods,  of  some 
invisible  power  that  was  not  on  his  side. 

But  it  was  not  always  so  peacefully  the  days  passed 
away  in  his  childhood,  but  sometimes  with  storms  too, 
storms  of  childish  anger  and  pride  and  wilfulness,  that 
marked  him  out  beyond  his  brothers  as  one  of  his  race. 
And  there  were  other  moments  too  of  a  more  sinister 
significance,  moments  of  cruelty  that  came  to  so  terrible 
a  development  later,  which  I  cannot  excuse,  can  never 
sufficiently  regret,  but  which  I  dare  not  ignore  since  I 
desire  to  speak  of  him  as  he  was,  with  all  his  faults  of 
vitality,  that  in  some  sort  he  caught  from  his  age ;  crimes 
that  won  him  so  much  hatred,  fear,  and  vengeance.  How 
to  account  for  a  certain  barbarism  in  one  who  in  some 
things  was  the  foremost  humanist  of  his  day  ?  Is  it  that 
there  lingers  even  yet  in  some  of  us  more  than  we  care  to 
admit  of  the  spirit  of  an  age  so  different,  that  after  all  has 
but  just  passed  away?  Do  our  ancestors  after  all  but  sleep 
in  our  hearts,  sleep  lightly,  awakening  now  and  again,  trans- 
forming us  into  their  likeness,  and  dulling  the  sensibilities 
that  seemed  to  have  cut  us  off  irrevocably  from  communion 
with  them?  And  indeed  this  new  sense  of  pity  among 


26  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

men,  unknown,  as  I  have  thought,  to  the  great  Roman  world, 
and  scarcely  to  be  discerned  even  in  the  writings  of  Plato, 
often  seems  to  me  to  be  a  tender  growth  that  might  easily 
be    broken    altogether    and    forgotten.     For   in    our   time, 
anxiously  and    eagerly  conscious   of   the   greatness   of   the 
pagan  world,  there  might  seem  to  be  no  room  for  pity,  if 
it  were   not  for   the   experience   of  the  age  which   stands 
for  ever  between   us   and   antiquity,   in   which   St    Francis 
shines  like  a  beacon,  a  visible   reminder  of  Jesus  Christ, 
who  had  pity  on  the  blind,  on  the  birds,  on  the  lepers- 
yes,  and  even  on  the  dead.     Just  that  sense  of  the  sadness 
of  things,  their  claim  upon  us,  for  a  sort  of  respect  of  their 
wretchedness  seems  to  me  sometimes  to  be  passing  away, 
and  yet  again  at  other  moments,  in  the  company  of  such 
a  man  as  Messer  Leon  Battista  Alberti,  for  instance,  to  be 
stronger  than   ever,  but   to  be  only  partially  appreciated ; 
wholly  ignored  by  some  of  the  greatest  spirits,  as  indeed  by 
Sigismondo  himself,  and  in  that,  I  sometimes  think,  now  when 
I  think  of  him  continually,  in  that  lay  his  greatest  limitation, 
a  real  wound  in  his  spirit,  a  scar  left  by  his  remote  ancestors 
who  had  lived  on  mankind ;  so  that  he  was  really  a  cripple, 
having  the  use  after  all  of  but  half  of  the  nature  of  man,  or 
blind,  as  it  were,  in  one  of  the  eyes  of  the  soul.    And  it  was 
not  war  or  hardship  or  misfortune   that  rendered  him  in- 
different to  the  horror  of  physical  torture   or  pain,  giving 
him  a  sense  of  triumph,  almost,  at  the  power  of  the  strong 
over  the  weak,  an  abuse  of  power  that  he  was  not  strong 
enough  to  resist.     Even  as  a  child,  as  I  have  heard,  he  was 
not  able  to  understand  or  to  feel  what  I  suppose  in  truth 
one  would  call  the  chivalry  that  is  owing  to  the  weak,  as 
women  or  children  or  animals,  from  the  strong,  to  the  slave 
from  his  master,  and,  pushed  to  the  farthest  height  of  human 
understanding,  comes  at  last  to  mean  the  difference  between 
justice  and  mercy — -justice  being  blind,  but  mercy  watchful 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  27 

and  full  of  understanding  of  the  pardon  that  lies  behind  a 
true  comprehension  of  every  weakness  or  brutality.  Such 
thoughts  I  have  seemed  to  discover  behind  the  words  of 
Messer  Vespasiano  di  Bisticci,  and  they  seem  almost  to  have 
been  expressed  by  the  life  of  St  Francis,  which  so  few  have 
understood,  and  which  our  day  has  been  content  to  ignore. 
Certainly  such  thoughts  were  foreign  to  the  mind  of  Sigis- 
mondo.  For,  as  I  have  heard,  wandering  one  day  in  the 
woods  with  Domenico,  his  brother,  during  those  long  days 
of  childhood  that  after  all  were  so  few,  he  came  upon  a 
dove,  wounded  it  may  be  by  some  hawk,  or  in  some  love 
contest,  such  as  they  share  with  us.  After  a  chase  among 
the  briers  and  brambles  they  caught  it,  and,  bringing  it  to 
the  cave,  in  mere  wantonness  plucked  it  naked,  a  mere 
bleeding,  grotesque  little  body,  while  it  struggled  now 
and  then,  and  uttered  tiny  shrieks  which  maybe  they 
could  not  hear,  twittering  in  vain  to  itself  or  its  com- 
panions, dying  at  last  as  the  remaining  feathers  were  torn 
away  in  the  hands  of  Sigismondo  covered  with  its  blood ; 
while  Galeotto,  who  had  come  upon  them,  stood  watching, 
helpless  and  in  tears,  wringing  his  hands.  Was  such  a  thing 
in  its  horror,  to  me  at  least,  significant  of  what  his  life  was  to 
be ;  was  he  ever  to  wash  his  hands  clean  of  that  innocent 
blood  ? 

However  weak  that  may  seem,  the  mere  meandering  of 
an  old  scholar,  an  old  humanist,  the  fit  companion  as  some 
still  hold  only  of  women,  who,  wandering  through  the  world, 
has  seemed  to  understand  how  hard  men  are  with  one 
another,  I  cannot  but  think  that  he  who  plucked  that 
living  dove  had  already  committed  in  his  heart  all  the 
crimes  of  his  later  life,  that  after  that  the  rest  was 
inevitable.  Yet  after  all  that  is  but  a  tale,  may  be  con- 
trived by  them  who  hated  him.  But  there  were  horrors  of 
which,  as  he  grew  older,  he  was  inevitably  a  witness.  The 


28  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

torture  and  death  of  a  rebellious  slave,  caught  in  his  flight 
through  the  woods  at  daybreak;  the  burning  of  a  witch 
who  had  muttered  some  insult  at  the  Bishop,  whom,  it  may 
be,  she  had  no  cause  to  love ;  the  brutality  of  one  in  a  little 
brief  authority  to  another  who  was  in  his  power.  Are  these 
excuses  for  him,  who  I  am  sure  at  certain  times  must  have 
felt  the  pitifulness  of  things,  the  tears  there  behind  the 
valour  and  the  sunshine,  in  any  single  thought  of  the  world  ? 
Yet,  when  I  have  ventured  to  speak  to  him  of  cruelty,  he 
has  laughed  at  me  without  understanding.  And  it  was 
once  when,  more  insistent  than  usual,  I  had  begged  him 
to  bear  with  me,  that  he  told  me  of  certain  horrors  of  his 
childhood,  light-heartedly  and  with  indifference,  so  that  in 
very  love  of  him,  and  in  shame  too,  since  his  shame  was 
mine,  I  crept  away  without  saying  anything  in  reply,  to 
ponder  for  my  relief  the  hard  and  yet  consoling  thoughts 
of  Marcus  Aurelius  Antoninus  concerning  a  world  as  in- 
different— men  being  really  unable  to  understand  his 
intention  towards  them,  his  love,  which  by  reason  of  that 
indifference  was  so  ineffectual.  Well,  I  too  have  not  been 
able  to  save  Sigismondo  from  such  indifference  and  its 
consequences,  which  at  last  left  him  almost  without  a 
friend,  for  what  can  I  account  myself,  poor,  old,  and  unused 
to  arms  as  I  am,  as  I  was,  when  he  needed  me  ? 

Yet  these  episodes  of  his  childhood,  that  was  so  quickly 
passing  away,  are  but  incidents  after  all,  full  of  indicative 
importance  it  is  true,  filling,  as  we  may  think,  the  future  with 
a  sort  of  foreboding,  but  by  no  means  representing  the  whole 
growing  nature  of  the  boy  or  the  tenour  of  his  days.  If 
there  was  cruelty  in  his  heart  there  was  joy  too,  and,  as 
he  was  soon  to  prove,  cruelty  had  by  no  means  sapped  his 
courage  or  overthrown  as  yet  the  greatness  of  his  personality. 
All  through  his  life  it  was  as  though  two  enemies  fought  in 
his  soul,  each  demanding  the  mastery ;  as  though  indeed  in 


S1GISMONDO   MALATESTA  29 

Sigismondo  old  Verrucchio  had  come  to  life  again  full  of  the 
enthusiasm  and  violence  of  his  time,  and  scornful  too  of  that 
other  he  found  there — Sigismondo  himself  as  I  like  to  believe, 
a  man  of  our  time,  of  the  new  age  that  was  just  then  dawning 
on  the  world.  Is  it  not  the  struggle  between  these  two 
forces  after  all  that  I  have  watched  breathlessly  all  my  life, 
as  though  the  dead  fought  with  the  living,  and  might  well 
snatch  the  victory. 

But  it  was  not  for  long  Sigismondo's  boyhood  lasted,  full 
of  thought  and  reverie,  and  the  daily  exercise  of  arms,  the 
training  for  action  insisted  upon  by  his  uncle,  together  with 
the  training  of  the  mind  no  less,  a  matter  of  importance  as 
he  thought.  For  already,  as  Carlo  had  foreseen,  the  enemy 
was  at  the  gate,  implacable  and  determined,  as  Sigismondo 
was  to  find  his  whole  life  long.  Even  before  Carlo's  death, 
which  happened  on  the  29th  of  September  1429,  Malatesta 
of  Pesaro  and  Guidantonio  of  Urbino,  seeing  that  there  was 
no  legitimate  heir  to  his  lordship,  had  made  treaty  together 
to  divide  his  dominion  between  them,  the  one  finding  his 
right  in  Guastafamiglia,  brother  of  Galeotto,  father  of  Carlo, 
the  other  in  his  wife  Rengarda,  Carlo's  sister,  dead  in  1423. 
And  even  as  Carlo  had  married  Vittoria  di  Lorenzo  Colonna, 
nie£e  to  Pope  Martin  V.,  hoping  for  an  heir,  or  at  least  for 
the  good  will  of  the  Holy  See  in  safeguarding  his  lordship, 
so  Guidantonio  of  Urbino,  after  Madonna  Rengarda's  death, 
married  Caterina,  sister  to  Vittoria,  and  for  the  same  reason, 
in  which  he  was  more  fortunate  than  Carlo. 

For  Martin  V.,  in  coming  to  Italy  in  1419  from  the 
Council  of  Constance,  had  found  his  states  full  of  disorder, 
and  the  temporal  power  of  the  Holy  See  for  the  most  part  a 
thing  of  the  past,  seeing  that  the  dominion  of  the  Church 
had  passed,  during  the  exile  of  the  Popes  and  the  confusion 
of  the  Schism,  into  the  hands  of  many  lords,  among  whom 
not  the  least  was  Carlo  Malatesta.  And  on  the  death  of 


30  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

Carlo,  who,  it  is  true,  had  gained  the  Pope's  leave  to  leave 
his  lordship  of  Rimini,  Fano,  Cesena,  Bertinoro,  Cervia  and 
Sarsina,  Sinigaglia,  Fossombrone,  Osimo,  and  Borgo  S. 
Sepolcro  to  Galeotto  just  then  eighteen  years  old,  Malatesta 
of  Pesaro  and  Guidantonio  of  Urbino  were  not  slow  to  suggest 
to  the  Pope  that  such  a  dominion  would  be  better  in  their 
hands  than  under  the  careless  rule  of  Galeotto,  a  bastard, 
still  young,  who  might  not  be  too  friendly,  as  they  pointed 
out,  to  His  Holiness  and  the  Papacy. 

A  strange  figure  you  may  think  this  youth  of  eighteen, 
who,  though  he  had  followed  Carlo  in  his  wars,  was  already 
a  mystic,  a  member  of  the  Third  Order  of  St  Francis,  and, 
as  it  proved,  ready  to  sacrifice  his  lordship  to  his  dream.  And 
certainly  in  this  family  of  soldiers  and  tyrants,  who  had 
always  worshipped  force  whether  of  body  or  mind,  and  so 
often  set  God  and  the  Church  at  defiance,  he  seems  like  a 
stranger.  Yet  Carlo  too  fought  hard  for  the  Church,  and 
was  called  an  holy  man  by  Messer  Rinaldo  degli  Albizzi.  It  was 
his  influence,  as  Sigismondo  has  thought,  that  at  first  turned 
Galeotto's  mind  towards  heaven,  so  that  at  last  he  became  a 
sort  of  monk,  watching  eagerly  every  day  to  see  the  priest 
make  Christ  out  of  bread  and  wine,  accounting  his  life 
nothing,  waiting  daily  for  his  death.  But  since  he  thought 
little  of  his  Lordship,  gradually  it  was  taken  from  him,  not  by 
the  rebellion  of  his  subjects,  who  loved  him,  and  called  him 
Saint,  but  by  the  Church,  who,  if  Galeotto  thought  only  of 
heaven,  under  Martin  V.,  and  Eugenius  IV.,  a  self-willed 
violent  man,  elected  in  1431,  seemed  to  think  of  nothing  but 
earth. 

Often  Sigismondo  has  told  me  how  he  would  creep  up  to 
his  brother's  room,  and  hear  his  groans  and  the  blows  of  the 
whip  with  which  he  flogged  himself;  while  the  people  say 
that  he  wore  a  hair  shirt  till  his  body  was  a  single  wound.  He 
had  married  Margherita  d'Este,  who  seems  to  have  loved  him, 


survived  him  more  than  forty  years  remained  ever  faithful  to 
him,  desiring  to  be  buried  with  him  at  last. 

But  Martin  V.  desired  his  Lordship,  and  seeking  for  some 
excuse  to  take  it  from  him,  urged  thereto  by  Malatesta  of 
Pesaro  and  the  Count  of  Urbino,  at  last  remembered  that 
Galeotto  and  his  brothers  were  bastards,  and  again  that  Carlo 
Malatesta  had  not  of  late  paid  the  tribute  yearly  due  to  the 
Church  from  him  as  Vicar  of  the  Holy  See,  so  he  sent 
certain  Captains,  Andrea  della  Serra,  Luca  da  Castello  and 
others,  against  him.  But  Galeotto,  as  though  unaware  of 
danger,  retired  to  his  cell  in  the  convent  of  Franciscans  at  S. 
Arcangelo,  striving  from  there  to  pacify  his  enemies,  asking 
at  last  for  leave  to  expel  all  the  Jews  from  Rimini,  telling  the 
Pope  that  this  would  be  the  crowning  deed  of  his  life ;  and 
Martin  gave  him  leave.  Meantime  Sigismondo,  then  just 
thirteen  years  old,  crossed  the  Foglio  by  night,  leaving 
Rimini  secretly,  and  fell  upon  the  armies  of  Malatesta  of 
Pesaro  and  the  Count  of  Urbino  encamped  at  Serra  Ungarina, 
and  dispersed  them.  Then  the  Pope,  seeing  his  friends  dis- 
comfited, made  peace  with  Galeotto,  stripping  him  of  more 
than  half  his  dominion  it  is  true,  but  reaffirming  him  in  his 
vicariate  of  Rimini,  Cesena  and  Fano  in  March  1430.  But 
Pesaro  and  Urbino  were  not  yet  content,  so  they  plotted  how 
they  might  seize  these  cities  also. 

It  was  in  the  midst  of  these  alarms,  secretly  almost  and 
without  ostentation,  as  he  had  desired  in  his  will,  that  on  the 
loth  of  October  1432  the  Franciscan  Brothers  bore  the  body 
of  Galeotto,  dead  of  wounds  at  last,  to  the  Campo  Santo, 
outside  the  doors  of  S.  Francesco,  where  they  buried  him,  in 
an  open  tomb,  as  he  had  appointed,  covered  later  with  an  iron 
grill,  for  the  people  worshipped  him  as  a  Saint,  and  desired 
his  bones  as  relics.  Nevertheless,  Sigismondo  destroyed  his 
tomb  in  the  year  1 454,  when  he  laid  the  dust  of  Galeotto  with 


32  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

the  bones  of  his  ancestors,  in  the  tomb  he  had  made  for 
them. 

But  the  times  called  for  action:  if  Galeotto  had  his 
treasure  in  heaven,  the  Lordship  of  the  Malatesti  was  at 
stake,  their  fortunes  on  a  narrow  bridge,  and  foes  both 
before  and  behind  them.  For  on  the  death  of  Galeotto, 
Margherita  d'Este,  his  wife,  and  Elisabetta  Gonzaga,  the 
widow  of  Carlo,  who  had  no  love  for  his  nephew,  were 
appointed  regents  during  the  infancy  of  Sigismondo;  and 
Giovanni  di  Ramberto,  their  counsellor  with  his  friends, 
tried  to  divide  the  city  against  the  family;  while  Andrea 
della  Serra,  watched  by  those  two  wolves  of  Pesaro  and 
Urbino,  and  encouraged  by  Pope  Eugenius  IV.,  more  hasty 
and  less  strong  than  Martin  V.,  marched  and  counter- 
marched, burning  and  slaying,  seizing  castles  and  cities  in 
the  dominion,  at  last  laying  siege  to  Rimini  itself.  And, 
seeing  their  danger,  the  people  of  Rimini  and  Fano  pro- 
tested to  the  Pope  their  allegiance  to  the  family  of 
Malatesta,  sending  some  of  their  richest  citizens  to  Rome  to 
assure  the  Holy  See  of  their  loyalty  to  the  sons  of  Pandolfo ; 
without  effect  as  it  proved,  for  already  Rimini  was  besieged. 

But  Sigismondo,  though  still  a  boy,  left  Rimini  in  disguise, 
knowing  well  that  the  people  were  on  his  side,  and,  coming 
to  Cesena,  called  the  people  together,  and  harangued  them, 
telling  them  that  their  fate  depended  upon  themselves, 
whether  they  should  fall  more  dead  than  alive  into  the 
hands  of  the  Pope  and  the  Pope's  friends,  or  live  prosper- 
ously, as  they  had  done  under  the  rule  of  his  house.  And 
they  welcomed  him  with  shoutings ;  and  he  gathered  there 
an  army  of  some  four  thousand  foot  and  three  hundred 
horse,  and  left  Cesena  secretly. 

As  I  sit  now  in  this  quiet  garden  at  Fiesole,  while  the 
south  wind  is  stripping  the  almond-trees  of  blossom,  and 
the  earth  is  tremulous  with  spring,  I  seem  to  see  him  ride 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  33 

out,  silently  as  was  his  wont,  his  hair  already  pressed  as  by 
the  crown  of  Italy,  that  was  after  all  to  be  only  the  iron 
casque  of  a  soldier  of  fortune.  Boy  though  he  was,  I  am 
sure  there  was  not  one  among  those  who  followed  him  who 
was  doubtful  of  victory.  He  was  not  of  those  who  are 
defeated,  save  by  themselves.  So  they  followed  him 
through  the  night  out  of  the  city  of  Cesena. 

And,  hearing  that  Carlo  Malatesta  of  Pesaro  was  be- 
sieging S.  Lungarino,  he  fell  upon  him  suddenly,  and,  though 
outnumbered,  defeated  him,  and  chased  him  through  the 
valleys.  And  from  that  day  all  Italy  saw  in  him  a  great 
soldier,  since  he,  at  the  age  of  fifteen,  a  novice,  with  but 
few  men,  had  beaten  a  veteran. 

Seeing,  then,  that  once  more  the  Malatesti  had  a  leader 
whom  the  people  would  follow,  a  man  fearless  and  full  of 
vitality,  Eugenius  IV.  made  peace  with  him,  confirming  him 
in  his  lordship  of  Rimini,  Cesena,  and  Fano.  Thus  again 
might  was  stronger  than  right,  and  overcame  it ;  for  if,  as 
the  Pope  asserted,  Galeotto,  being  illegitimate,  had  no  right 
to  the  lordship  of  Carlo,  no  more  had  Sigismondo,  who  was 
bastard  too ;  yet  he  would  have  deprived  the  one  while  he 
confirmed  the  other.  It  seems  to  be  ever  thus  in  Italy, 
where  the  only  right  is  force,  and  virtue  is,  as  of  old,  a  sort 
of  vitality  and  fitness. 

Thus  Sigismondo's  childhood  came  to  an  end  earlier  than 
usual,  yet  leaving  there  in  his  heart  certain  indelible  needs, 
a  desire  for  action  certainly,  an  immense  ambition.  Not  to 
be  unworthy  of  his  ancestors,  it  was  a  lesson  he  learned 
well.  And  if  this  idea  possessed  him  thus  early  it  was  not 
in  the  world  of  action  alone  that  he  conceived  his  future 
might  lie,  but  in  the  new  world  of  thought  and  art  too,  into 
which  he  had  been  born,  and  whose  champion  he  desired 
to  be.  For  the  instability  of  their  dominion  had  turned  the 
thoughts  of  the  Signori  towards  another  kingdom,  where 


34  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

fortune  was  not  so  fickle  as  in  the  practical  affairs  of  men. 
It  was  as  though  at  this  time  the  tyrants  had  sought  to  find 
excuse  for  their  rule,  illegitimate  as  it  was,  in  a  patronage, 
an  eager  defence,  of  the  new  learning  or  of  the  arts. 

Looking  back  now  on  my  life,  on  the  history  of  my 
country,  it  is  this  canker  at  her  heart  that  might  seem  to 
be  the  disease  of  which  one  day,  alas !  not  distant,  she  must 
die — I  mean  illegitimacy,  not  of  birth  alone,  but  of  govern- 
ment, of  life.  For  no  state  save  Venice  has  escaped  this 
curse ;  is  not  Aragon  sprung  from  a  bastard,  and  the  houses 
of  Este,  La  Scala,  Bentivogli,  and  Montefeltro  are  they  un- 
suspect  ?  And  in  government  too,  if  we  ask  how  Sforza  came 
by  Milan,  or  the  Malatesti  by  Rimini,  or  any  of  these  tyrants 
by  their  lordships,  shall  we  not  find  that  it  was  nearly 
always  by  illegitimate  means  that  they  gained  their  power  ? 
while  not  long  since  illegitimate  Popes  claimed  and  held 
the  allegiance  of  half  Europe. 

And  when  I  remember  those  cities  through  which  I  have 
wandered,  and  find  there  almost  no  unity  at  all,  so  that  Italy 
does  not  really  exist  save  in  the  mind  of  a  dreamer  like  my- 
self; when  I  know  that  in  every  man  there  is  a  partisan  and 
not  a  patriot,  that  each  man  has  ever  been  for  the  Empire  or 
for  the  Holy  See,  for  this  city  or  for  that,  but  never  for  Italy, 
and  that  the  smallest  pretext  is  enough  to  unchain  these  baying 
dogs — then  it  seems  to  me  that  indeed  we  must  be  on  the 
eve  of  awakening,  and  that  this  enthusiasm  for  life  which  is 
everywhere  about  me  must  force  upon  us  a  consciousness 
of  our  nationality ;  and  whether  it  be  Pope  or  Emperor  who 
will  save  us  matters  nothing  so  that  we  are  made  one, 
every  man  with  his  brother. 

Ah !  with  what  longing  and  envy  I  have  looked  towards 
those  merry  German  cities,  Nuremberg,  for  instance,  where 
life  is  embittered  by  no  political  factions  ;  or  to  England,  where 
I  have  heard  there  is  a  real  personal  loyalty,  a  sort  of  half 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  35 

jligious  devotion  to  the  Prince,  so  characteristic  of  the 
North  !  Perhaps  it  is  impossible  to  be  loyal  to  a  power 
illegitimate  in  its  essence  in  a  land  where  everything  is 
illegitimate,  even  Love.  Is  it  because  these  lordships  are 
illegitimate,  illegitimate  that  is  as  based  on  no  principle, 
derived  in  no  regular  way,  but  held  as  prizes,  that  those 
who  hold  them  must  aggrandise  themselves  ?  Indeed,  Dante 
has  told  us  in  his  De  Monarchia  that  "  Nobility  rests  in 
personal  excellence  or  in  that  of  our  ancestors !  " 

But  fragile  are  the  thrones  of  Captains  whose  praise  is 
war.  Not  one  of  them  has  been  able  to  forge  out  of 
this  seething  mass  of  iron  the  sword  that  shall  be  Italy. 
Even  as  the  Visconti  fell,  while  the  flesh  of  men  was  sold 
injhe  streets,  so  will  they  fall.  Yet  I  believe  and  am  sure 
that  one  day  there  will  arise  a  man  who  will  remember  that 
Caesar  made  himself  master  of  Italy  in  three  months,  and  in 
less  than  two  years  founded  the  Empire  that  in  some  sort 
has  lasted  till  our  day.  It  might  seem  that  it  is  a  harder  deed 
to  mould  a  nation  out  of  many  dukedoms,  counties,  and  lord- 
ships, without  law,  without  government,  without  patriotism, 
in  whose  cities  Man  seems  suddenly  to  have  awakened,  and, 
bewildered  by  the  beauty  and  splendour  of  the  world,  to 
have  fallen  an  easy  prey  to  tyrants.  It  is  of  one  of  them 
I  have  set  myself  to  write. 

For  I  too  have  loved  Sigismondo  for  his  force,  virtue,  and 
worth,  and  for  no  cause  beyond  reason.  Not  that  he  was 
my  Prince,  but  that  he  has  found  it  necessary  to  his  own 
spirit  to  place  himself  at  the  head  of  the  culture  of  his  time, 
and  because  he  was  beautiful,  fearless,  and  unfortunate. 
And  I  too  have  nothing  but  my  own  personality  to  depend 
on  and  the  free  cities  have  been  my  enemies,  but  the  Tyrants 
have  been  my  friends.  Thus,  like  Plato  in  Athens,  I  praise 
the  government  of  Sparta,  which  would  have  imprisoned  me, 
and  legitimately  taken  away  my  life. 


IV 


To  be  worthy  of  his  ancestors !  Certainly  that  was  no 
shameful  desire,  yet  after  all  had  he  not  a  duty  to  his  own 
time  no  less  insistent?  Not  to  be  unworthy  of  himself,  of 
the  new  and  precious  things  that  were  hidden  in  his  own 
soul,  was  not  that  may  be  more  important  than  any  mere 
blind  devotion  to  the  past  could  be,  so  that  really  it  were 
better  that  the  dead  should  bury  their  dead  while  he 
followed  the  living  ?  Did  he  ever  ask  himself  this  question, 
driven  and  flogged  hither  and  thither  as  he  was  in  that 
uncertain  age,  when  at  one  moment  it  seemed  as  though 
we  were  about  to  come  upon  the  very  immortal  gods  in 
a  sudden  and  strange  burst  of  spring  between  two  stretches 
of  bleak  winter,  while  at  another  the  whole  world  seemed 
about  to  dash  itself  in  agony  and  tears  against  the  lonely 
tomb  of  Jesus  ?  In  the  personality  of  Sigismondo  rather  than 
in  any  other  man  of  his  day  I  seem  to  discern,  as  I  have 
said,  that  struggle  which  had  come  upon  the  world,  a 
conflict  between  the  old  and  the  new,  in  which  it  was 
necessary  there  should  be  victor  and  vanquished,  where  no 
compromise  was  possible,  no  truce  to  be  thought  of  for  a 
moment.  Certainly  he  desired  the  fairest  and  the  noblest 
things,  only  what  were  the  noblest  and  fairest  after  all  ? 

Yes,  it  had  come  to  just  that.  Everywhere  one  was 
questioning  things ;  a  new  world  seemed  to  be  opening  before 
one  in  which  for  the  first  time  Man  appeared,  individual  man, 
with  all  the  world  in  himself;  and  in  his  own  heart,  as  some 
said,  the  kingdom  of  heaven  also. 

But  then,  even  though  one  might  in  some  way  understand, 

36 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  37 

at  any  rate  welcome,  this  new  world  with  its  gladness,  its 
/akened    spirit,  its   openness  of  heart — and   indeed   it   is 
difficult  for  me  to  express  exactly  what  all  men  are  aware 
nevertheless, — even  though    one    might   altogether   em- 
race    it,  there  were  times    when    there  awakened  too   in 
ne's  heart  other  desires  and  needs  and  brutalities  that  it 
as  necessary  to  satisfy;   ambition,  for  instance,  that  need 
ot  be  ignoble ;  a  certain  love  of  power  that,  alas  !   so  easily 
ows  into  tyranny ;  all  those  desires  and  dreams  that  man 
s   harboured   so  long  and   that  are  not  less  insistent  or 
werful  on  that  account :  his  life  in  the  mountains  with  the 
sts;  the  journeys  over  the  weary  miles  of  the  desert,  full 
f  dreams,  towards  Jerusalem ;  the  crimes  at  nightfall  by  the 
ayside;    the   glut  and  sacking  of  cities;    the  violation  of 
women ;  the  scarlet  blood  of  young  men ;  the  torture  agony 
and  delight  of  the  lives  of  the  saints ;  the  longing  for  women 
in  barred   cloisters  before  the  frail  and  strangely  symbolic 
images  of  Madonna ;  the  weariness  of  the  world ;  the  terror 
of  the  grave. 

How  much  I  have  sometimes  asked  myself,  had  those  two 
tutors  to  answer  for,  Pandolfo  de'  Mengardoni  and  Ugolino 
de'  Pili  da  Forli,  whom  Pandolfo  Malatesta  had  procured  for 
the  education  of  Sigismondo  and  Domenico,  in  a  certain 
disregard  for  others,  for  mere  justice,  a  splendid,  and  yet  in 
some  way  I  cannot  explain,  really  a  disheartening  egoism 
obvious  enough  certainly  in  the  character  of  Sigismondo, 
that,  remembering  his  enthusiasm  for  Philosophy  and  for  Art, 
I  cannot  but  think  the  result  of  some  unfortunate  bias  his 
spirit  must  have  received  in  early  youth  or  the  haunting 
dreams  of  that  giant,  the  Past,  who  did  not  always  sleep  in 
his  heart,  and  even  though  he  wakened  but  seldom,  ever 
slept  uneasily.  But  indeed  that  egoism,  so  full  of  energy, 
and  yet  so  narrowing,  bearing  in  itself,  as  I  think,  the 
certainty  of  destruction,  is  characteristic  enough  of  the 


38  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

foremost  men  of  our  day,  though  not  always,  it  may  be,  in 
so  profound  a  fashion  as  in  the  life  of  Sigismondo.  And 
something  of  the  cruelty  that  marred  his  youth,  and  of  the 
egoism  that  was  at  last  to  ruin  him,  may  be  found,  I  think,  in 
two  circumstances  that  happened  about  this  time.  For  in 
the  tumults  that  followed  the  death  of  Galeotto,  Pandolfo 
de'  Mengardoni  was  found  among  the  rebels,  and  put  to 
death ;  while  Ugolino  de'  Pili  suddenly  disappeared,  starved 
and  tortured  as  some  say,  as  Pope  Pius  later  did  not  hesitate 
to  assert,  for  no  just  cause,  but  for  the  pleasure  of  Sigis- 
mondo, who  desired  nothing  better  than  the  pain  and 
humiliation  of  one  who  had  been  in  authority  over  him. 
But  those  who  have  known  Sigismondo's  kindness  and 
generosity  to  scholars  may  assure  themselves  that  this  man 
also  was  involved  in  some  treason.1 

It  was  about  this  time  too,  while  Sigismondo  was  but 
fifteen  years  old,  that,  hearing  of  his  victories  and  of  the 
treaty  he  had  made  with  Pope  Eugenius  IV.,  himself  a 
Venetian,  rich  but  not  noble,  and  knowing  the  friendship 
Venice  professed  for  the  lords  of  Rimini,  whose  city  was 
set  beside  the  same  sea,  Francesco  Busone  da  Car- 
magnola,  general  of  the  Republic,  offered  him  his  little 
daughter  in  marriage,  sending  him  as  a  present  a  fine  horse 
together  with  a  beautiful  helmet  of  pure  silver.  And 
Sigismondo  accepted  both  his  offer  and  his  gifts.  It  was 
the  lord  of  Mantua  who  in  great  part  had  made  this  match, 
desiring,  it  may  be,  to  bring  Sigismondo  definitely  to  the  side 
of  the  Venetians  against  Milan,  seeing  in  him  perhaps  a 
successor  to  Carmagnola ;  and  from  him  Sigismondo  received 
presents,  among  them  a  helmet  and  a  horse  not  less  beauti- 
ful than  those  Carmagnola  had  given  him.  The  affair, 

1  Sanseverino's  opinion  is  endorsed,  among  others,  by  Battaglini  (Basini 
Opera,  Rimini,  1744,  vol.  ii.  302),  and  apparently  by  Flavius  Blondus  of 
Rimini. 


: 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  39 

however,    had    gone    no    further,   though    Sigismondo   had 
received   a  great   part    of   the    marriage   portion,   when    in 
May   1432,  the  Consiglio  dei  Dieci  suspecting  Carmagnola 
f  treason,  falsely  as  I  believe,  beheaded  him  in  the  Piazza 
i   S.  Marco.     Whether  indeed   this  shameful  death  really 
influenced  Sigismondo  (perhaps  for  certain  political  reasons 
easy  to  understand)  not  to  ally  himself  with  a  family  accused 
of  treason  by  Venice  and  disgraced  before  the  world,  and, 
not  least,  in  the  eyes  of  the  Venetian  Pope ;  or  whether, 
being   still  young,  he   had   no  heart   in  a    political  match, 
esiring  to  wed  with  one  whom  he  might  love,  I  know  not, 
ut  he  repudiated  the  daughter  of  Carmagnola.     And  even 
ere  too,  as  I  cannot  but  think,  he  acted  unworthily,  not 
the  repudiation,  which  it  may  well  be  was  thrust  upon 
im,  but  in  refusing  as  he  did  to  give  back  the  marriage 
rtion  he  had  received  in  good  faith  from  a  family  now 
ined.     Was  it  that  he  reminded  himself  that  Carmagnola 
other  days  had  driven  his  father  from  Brescia  ?     It  is  the 
nly  excuse  I  can  find  for  one  who  in  his  earliest  youth  was 
so  little  generous  to  those  who  were  in  distress,  and  for  no 
just  cause,  as  I  have  said,  but  from  fortune,  so  uncertain  in 
that  sort  of  life,  as  Sigismondo  was  to  find  later,  when  he 
too  looked  may  be  for  a  certain  generosity  in  men  and  found 
none. 

And  indeed,  in  all  that  world  of  Sigismondo's  youth,  so 
bitter  and  so  alert,  so  full  of  ambition,  but  one  lord  of  them 
all  had  involved  himself  in  no  one's  quarrel,  but  had  stood 
alone  neither  for  the  Pope  nor  for  his  enemies — I  mean  the 
Marchese  Nicolo  d'Este,  the  dear  friend  of  Carlo  Malatesta. 
It  was  he  who  in  this  moment  of  crisis,  not  for  Sigismondo 
alone,  but  for  Italy,  came  to  his  assistance,  and  found  a  way 
for  him  out  of  his  difficulties  by  the  which  he  should  offend 
neither  Milan  nor  the  Pope.  Indeed,  the  times  were  grave 
enough.  For  the  Council  of  Basel  being  assembled,  and  the 


40  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

Pope  eager  against  it ;  while  Sigismund,  King  of  the  Romans, 
in  some  sort  its  would-be  ambassador,  like  a  Carnival  King, 
was  dragged  by  his  ambition  for  the  Imperial  crown  from 
Milan,  where  he  had  assumed  the  iron  crown  of  Lombardy, 
while  Duke  Filippo  insulted  him,  to  Piacenza,  and  thence  to 
Parma  and  Lucca,  and  at  last  to  Siena,  where  he  remained 
caged  like  a  wild  beast  between  the  armies  of  the  Florentines, 
the  Venetians,  and  the  Duke  of  Milan,  who  had  deserted 
him,  a  new  schism,  not  less  dangerous  than  that  which  was 
scarcely  healed,  threatened  the  world,  and  chiefly  Italy,  the 
head  and  front  thereof.  In  this  moment  of  great  need  only 
the  Marchese  Nicolo  d'Este  stood  firm,  desiring  above  all 
things  the  peace  of  Italy,  and  at  last,  with  the  greatest  tact, 
he  arranged  terms  between  the  Pope  and  Sigismund,  the 
Duke  of  Milan  and  the  Venetians  and  Florentines,  weary 
at  last  of  war,  so  that  the  treaty  was  signed  in  Ferrara  in 
April  1433.  And  at  the  same  time  he  provided  for  the 
coronation  of  Sigismund  in  Rome,  which  happened  in  that 
same  year  on  the  3 1  st  of  May,  being  Whitsunday. 

While  engaged  in  these  treaties  Nicolo  d'Este,  not 
unmindful  of  his  friendship  for  the  Malatesti,  and  re- 
membering, it  may  be,  his  own  bastards,  offered  Sigismondo 
his  daughter  Ginevra  in  marriage ;  and  Sigismondo  agreed, 
thus  betrothing  himself  to  the  sister  of  his  brother's  wife, 
and  making  sure  the  alliance  of  his  family  with  the  Lords  of 
Ferrara.  After  the  betrothal  had  been  published  by  the 
Bishop  in  the  Sala  Verde  of  the  Gattolo  on  the  22nd  of 
February  1433,  twenty  days  later  Sigismondo  set  out  for 
Ferrara,  and  on  the  i5th  of  March  placed  the  ring  on 
Madonna  Ginevra's  hand,  though  he  delayed  bringing  her 
home  to  Rimini  till  later.  And  there  followed  fast  on  these 
festivities  that  good  news  for  all  Italy — to  wit,  the  peace 
arranged  by  the  Marchese  Nicolo,  and  Sigismund,  the 
Emperor,  was  as  pleased  as  any. 


& 


.-'. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  41 

Leaving  Rome  as  Emperor,  crowned,  as  he  had  desired, 
by  the  Pope  before  the  high  altar  in  S.  Pietro,  Sigismund, 
with  the  Duke  of  Bavaria,  and  among  the  Italian  gentlemen 
who  followed  him  Marsilio  Carrarese  and  Brunoro  della 
Scala,  on  their  way  northward,  leaving  Perugia,  came  by 
way  of  Urbino  to  Rimini,  much  to  the  delight  of  Sigismondo, 
who,  thinking  always  of  Caesar,  had  three  triumphal  arches 
built  in  the  Via  Emilia,  which  passes  through  the  city  under 
the  arch  of  Augustus,  while  he  decked  the  streets  with 
hangings  and  trophies.  And  there  went  out  to  meet  the 
Emperor  the  Signori  Sigismondo  and  Novello,  with  all  the 
clergy  in  procession,  to  S.  Godenzo.  And  after  Messer 
Antonio  degli  Andarelli  had  praised  him  in  a  Latin  Ode, 
the  Signori  offered  him  the  Keys  of  the  city ;  but  he  gave 
them  back  again  with  courteous  thanks,  and  entered  Rimini 
at  last  under  a  rich  canopy,  supported  by  the  Bishop  of  the 
city,  with  Giovanni  Malatesta  di  Sogliano,  Count  Nicolo 
Malatesta  di  Ghiaggiuolo,  Count  Francesco  di  Carpegna,  the 
Count  of  Piagiano,  Vanne  de'  Medici,  Count  of  Valfenara, 
the  Podesta,  Carlo  de'  Lapi,  the  Cavaliere  Marco  degli 
Aguselli,  Antonio  da  Montesecco,  and  Carlo  da  Monteal- 
boddo.  And  the  Emperor  went  on  horseback  to  the  Gat- 
tolo,  where  he  dined  with  his  Barons,  and  after  walked 
abroad  in  the  Piazza,  and  later  attended  a  splendid  Festa  in 
the  Gattolo,  where  all  those  who  out  of  respect  had  come 
to  court  danced  before  him,  who,  as  he  told  the  Pope,  was 
a  lover  of  women,  and  found  ours  of  Rimini,  as  he  said, 
not  less  beautiful  than  the  Roman  ladies. 

Then  jSjgisrmind  with  his  own  hand,  before  this  great  com- 
pany, knighted  Sigismondo  and  Domenico  his  brother ;  and 
though  I  think  indeed  they  did  not  covet  this  honour,  since 
before  long  every  wool-carder,  money-lender,  and  baker's  son 
will  be  dubbed  knight,  so  eagerly  does  a  blockhead  nowadays 
bestride  an  old  skinny  nag  and  don  a  leather  jerkin,  taking 


42  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

them  where  he  finds  them,  so  that  there  be  knights  of  four- 
score who  never  struck  a  blow,  and  knights  who  keep  shop 
and  steal  what  they  can  in  their  leisure,  decked  with  the 
favours  of  some  farm  wench,  still  the  Emperor,  merry  with 
wine,  meant  it  well  enough ;  and  the  title  which  he  never  used 
harmed  not  Sigismondo,  who  needed  not  this  honour  to  help 
him  to  a  horse  or  a  good  sword,  and  had  men's  love  and  fear 
already,  not  by  any  German's  leave,  but  for  his  own  virtue, 
bravery,  and  force.1 

The  day  following,  when  the  Emperor,  with  Signer  Sigis- 
mondo and  his  guests,  had  heard  Mass  at  S.  Giuliano  beyond 
the  Marrechia,  across  the  Bridge  of  Augustus,  he  set  out  in 
the  company  of  the  Signori  towards  Cesena,  and  coming  to 
Villalta,  a  villa  of  the  Lords  of  Sogliano,  between  Cesenatico 
and  Cervia,  in  the  place  called  Boscabella,  he  encamped  till 
dawn.  Then  moving  his  army,  for  he  had  with  him  still  some 
eight  hundred  of  his  own  horse — though  he  had  entered  Italy 
with  an  escort  of  six  hundred  men  of  the  Duke  of  Milan, 
but  they  had  long  since  returned  to  Lombardy — when  he  was 
at  the  ford  of  Castiglione  on  the  Savio  he  went  towards 
Ravenna,  not,  however,  before  he  had  created  as  Count 
Palatine  Guglielmo  de'  Maschi,  who  followed  Malatesta 
Novello,  for  he  with  the  Lord  of  Sogliano  and  the  Count 
of  Carpegna  and  his  son  Rinalduccio,  the  Podesta  Vanne 
de'  Medici  and  his  kinsman  Doctor  Giacomo  de'  Roselli, 
had  come  thus  far  with  him — to  wit,  to  the  boundary 
of  the  state,  and  thence  on  his  departure  they  returned 
to  Rimini. 

That  visit,  so  transitory  and  so  splendid,  remained  in 
Sigismondo's  mind  for  very  many  years  after,  confirming  him 
in  a  love  for  all  the  antique  grandeur  of  Rome,  that  certainly 
in  the  person  of  Sigismund  of  Luxembourg  was  fantastic  and 

1  Clementini,   op.  ctt.  vol.  ii.  p.   304,  says  that  the  Emperor  changed 
Sigismondo's  name  at  the  same  time,  for  it  had  till  then  been  Gismondo. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  43 

strange  enough  to  please  and  fascinate  a  boy  so  imaginative, 
so  likely  to  adorn  the  solemn  greatness  of  old  days,  a  little 
wearying,  as,  in  my  heart,  I  have  sometimes  thought  they  may 
have  really  been,  till   it  assumed   a  modern  air,  and   gaily 
passed  before  him  like  a  pageant  of  autumn  masquerading  as 
spring,  with  all  the  joy  and  gaiety  of  one  of  those  processions 
I  have  often  seen  winding  through  the  streets  of  Florence  in 
the  days  of  Carnival,  the  girls  and  young  men  singing  the 
songs  of  Signor  Lorenzo ;  or  in  the  streets  of  Rimini,  for  that 
matter,  when  the  swallows  come  eastward  and  south  over  the 
sea  on  one  of  the  first  calm  and  halcyon  days  of  February  or 
March,  and  the  whole  world  would  sing  in  a  moment  of  glad- 
ness between  the  long  winter  and   the   uncertain   days   of 
spring.     Was  it  at  this  time  that  he  decided  to  set  Fame 
before  him  as  his  divinity,  and  exalted  Glory  to  be,  as  it 
were,    his    patron    saint?      Certainly    it    was    in    his    early 
youth,  that  he  would  devise  these  processions,  a  Triumph 
of  Love  or  Fame   may  be,  with  their  cars  beautiful   with 
the  old  gods — the  old  gods,  who  had  suddenly  been  born 
again  on  a  summer  day  in  Rimini  in  the  persons  of  Messer 
Giovanni  or  Madonna  Giulia,  or  even  as  I  have  sometimes 
thought,   in  more   sinister  fashion,  of  Sigismondo  himself, 
only  with  a  certain  mortal  beauty  about  them,  a  little  pen- 
sive too,  as  of  a  God  who  has  looked  on  death,  that  I  think 
was  not  observed  by  the  many  boisterously  anxious  to  greet 
Messer  Giovanni  as  Mars  or  Donna   Giulia  as  Venus,  her 
girdle  unfastened,  and  her  white  body,  like  a  flower  burst 
from  its  green  sheath,  which  the  young  men  eyed  a  little 
shyly,  flinging  her  kisses  and  roses  till  sundown. 

Well,  it  was  at  some  such  pageant  as  this  made  for  the 
Emperor  that  Sigismondo,  desiring  the  apotheosis  of  Fame  to 
be  represented,  some  of  the  cars  were  to  be  devoted  to  this 
subject,  and,  turning  over  the  great  illuminated  Petrarch  in 
the  Gattolo,  he  came  upon  the  very  thing — Trionfo  della  Fama, 


44  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

a  car  in  which  Fame  herself  sat  surrounded  by  angels  blowing 
their  long  trumpets,  and  drawn  by  elephants  trumpeting  too, 
while  the  people  strewed  flowers  to  be  crushed  by  their  great 
clumsy  feet. 

And  ever  after  he  took  this  symbol  of  Fame,  the  elephant, 
for  his  device,  had  it  indeed  curiously  wrought  on  his  armour, 
on  his  helmet,  on  his  bridles  and  saddles,  that  all  might  know 
he  sought  ever  for  Glory  and  had  set  his  heart  on  an  im- 
perishable star.1 

In  such  thoughts  as  these,  and  in  preparation  too  for  the 
advent  of  Madonna  Ginevra,  his  wife,  to  Rimini,  in  devising 
processions,  beautiful  pageants,  and  a  real  siege,  the  storming 
of  a  fortress,  for  her  delight,  the  days  passed  after  the  de- 
parture of  the  Emperor;  while  Romagna  and  all  Italy  too 
enjoyed  the  new  peace.  And  it  was  at  this  moment  that, 
after  many  wanderings,  I  came  to  rest  at  Rimini. 

But  it  was  not  for  long  after  all  that  this  fragile  peace 
lasted.  For  the  Emperor  was  scarcely  out  of  Italy  when  the 
Duke  of  Milan,  more  furious  than  ever  with  the  Pope,  since 
Pope  and  Emperor  were  friends,  plotted  with  the  Colonna 
and  their  many  adherents  in  and  around  Rome  to  do  the 
Church  some  harm.  Even  Fortebraccio,  though  he  had  been 
in  the  pay  of  Eugenius,  being  gained  by  the  Duke  with 
presents  and  promises,  had  begun  to  fight  near  Rome  with 
the  bands  who  served  the  Pope,  capturing  Ponte  Molle  as 
early  as  August ;  while  Francesco  Sforza,  won  over  by  the 
Duke,  who  promised  him  his  bastard  Bianca  in  marriage, 
seized  the  March;  and  the  Duke  was  supported  in  these 
things  by  the  Council  at  Basle.  All  this  brought  confusion 
into  Romagna,  and  Sigismondo  with  Novello,  thinking  to  make 
all  sure,  fortified  Cervia,  so  that  it  might  not  fall  into  the 

1  It  is  well  to  have  Sanseverino's  statement  on  this  vexed  question,  for  the 
suggestions  that  have  been  made  as  to  whence  Sigismondo  had  his  device 
are  both  curious  and  far-fetched. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  45 

hands  of  the  Duke  ;  but  the  Pope  thought  that  they  too 
were  among  his  enemies. 

In  the  midst  of  this  uncertainty  Sigismondo  went  to 
Ferrara  to  claim  Madonna  Ginevra,  his  wife,  and  to  ask  counsel 
of  his  father-in-law,  Nicolo  d'Este,  who  advised  him,  as  was 
his  manner,  to  remain  neutral  in  this  quarrel,  an  hard  saying 
to  one  like  Signor  Sigismondo.  Nevertheless,  he  determined 
to  send  an  ambassador  to  Rome  to  explain  the  affair  of  Cervia 
to  the  Pope,  and  he  chose  me  for  this  honour ;  yet  because  he 
loved  me  he  would  not  let  me  depart  until  his  return,  and  those 
Festivities,  Triumphs,  and  Tournaments  over  which  he  had  spent 
so  much  thought  for  the  delight  of  Madonna  Ginevra  were 
done  with,  and  by  this  you  may  see  what  a  boy  he  was  still, 
in  that  he  would  rather  pleasure  a  friend  than  secure  himself. 

And  indeed  I  remember  well  enough  those  days  he  was 
absent,  for  to  me  even  then  some  light  seemed  wanting  in 
the  sun,  and  certainly  the  year  broke  stormily.  How  often 
at  his  command  did  I  question  the  stars  on  his  behalf,  but 
they  promised  only  disaster,  and  for  this  cause,  and  because  I 
think  this  science  a  foolish  and  even  an  evil  thing,  beautiful 
though  it  be  doubtless,  I  deceived  him ;  yet  they  by  chance 
spoke  truth  and  I  lies.  But  all  these  things  I  have  kept  in  my 
heart,  nor  shall  I  say  more  now  concerning  them. 

It  was  the  seventh  day  of  February  when  he  entered 
Rimini  with  Madonna  Ginevra,  radiant  and  a  little  weary 
from  the  journey  with  him.  And  Carlo  Malatesta  of  Pesaro 
with  his  wife,  Madonna  Vittoria  Colonna,  were  there  to  greet 
him.  In  truth  I  knew  not  I  had  missed  him  so  much  till, 
later  than  had  been  expected,  I  saw  him  enter  the  city  past 
S.  Giuliano,  and  watched  the  sunset  strike  his  banners  for 
the  first  time,  as  the  procession  halted  on  the  Ponte 
d'Augusto,  where  he  waited  to  show  Madonna  Ginevra, 
sleepily  smiling,  that  old  Roman  bridge  he  loved  so  well. 
Thence  he  led  her  into  the  Gattolo,  kissing  her  eagerly 


46 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 


enough  as  he  lifted  her  over  the  threshold  between  the  great 
grim  bastions  of  the  drawbridge.  And  she,  white  as  a  flower, 
layed  her  hands  on  the  silver  of  his  cuirass,  and  kissed  him 
again  before  the  people.  So  he  brought  her  home.  Yet 
indeed  I  have  seen  him  kiss  as  eagerly  many  another  maid 
in  Rimini,  and  certainly  there  were  tears  in  the  eyes  of 
many  women  who  looked  on  him  then,  but  whether  this 
were  grief,  envy,  or  the  mere  sentiment  so  easily  roused  in 
women  at  all  times,  especially  at  marriages,  births,  funerals, 
and  so  forth,  I  know  not  ;  for  he  loved  women  as  he  loved 
Art,  furiously  and  to  his  undoing,  as  I  shall  relate. 

The  whole  city  was  abroad  again  at  dawn,  which  broke 
sharp  and  wintry,  promising  a  day  of  sun.  And  indeed  that 
sunless  dawn,  that  laid  the  dew  thick  on  the  bright  armour, 
and  drooped  the  flags,  and  filled  the  plain  with  mist,  grew  later 
into  a  perfect  day—  one  of  those  days,  not  so  uncommon  after 
all  in  February,  when  spring  seems  to  have  come  already,  and 
all  happiness  with  her.  Was  it  really  so,  or  was  it  just  in 
my  heart  that  these  things  were,  for  that  Sigismondo  had 
returned,  bringing  his  wife  with  him  ? 

Even  on  the  evening  before,  a  little  shyly  may  be,  as 
though  in  promise  of  to-morrow,  through  the  streets  at  sun- 
set that  song  had  stolen  which  I  have  so  loved  (and  which 
Signer  Lorenzo  later  added  to  and  polished),  sung  by  the 
young  men,  being  borne  at  last  across  the  bridge  of 
Augustus  in  a  sort  of  triumphal  chorus  : 

"  Quant'e  bella  giovinezza 
Che  si  fugge  tuttavia  ! 
Chi  vuol  esser  lieto  :   sia  — 
Di  doman  non 


certezza. 


1  "  How  beautiful  is  youth, 

That  yet  flees  away  always  ! 
He  who  wishes  to  be  merry,  let  him  be  merry, 
Of  to-morrow  there  is  no  certainty." 
It    may    well    be    that    this    verse    is    founded    on    a    folk    song,    but 
Sanseverino  has  inadvertently  used  Lorenzo's  poem. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  47 

And  with  the  morning,  so  shy  and  so  fair,  that  chorus  had 
grown  into  an  ordered  and  yet  wild  sort  of  pageant,  a  Trionfo 
as  we  say,  in  honour  of  the  occasion,  and  for  all  its  con- 
trivance had  arranged  somehow  to  keep  still  about  it  a 
certain  wildness,  something  of  the  wild  flowers  themselves, 
being  really  almost  a  natural  growth,  a  song  of  youth.  For 
amid  the  crowds  of  holiday  folk  that  thronged  the  city  for 
the  three  days'  Festa  and  Tournament,  during  which  all  the 
shops  of  the  merchants  were  shut,  and  the  Court  of  the 
Gattolo  was  thrown  open  that  all  who  belonged  to  the 
state  and  those  strangers  who  were  come  to  the  city  might 
be  served  with  food,  there  moved  the  great  car  of  Bacchus 
and  Ariadne,  where  Bacchus  himself  stood  with  his  leopard 
skin  round  him — yes,  in  the  very  likeness  of  the  statue  that 
not  so  long  ago  some  peasant  had  turned  up  with  his  plough 
in  the  fields  and  brought  to  Sigismondo;  while  Ariadne 
herself,  white  and  beautiful,  lay  in  his  arms,  her  great  serious 
eyes  laughing  now  at  her  friends,  her  golden  hair  tumbling 
on  her  shoulders,  and  her  wine-coloured  dress  with  the 
gaily  slashed  sleeves  showing  the  starched  linen,  and  the  fan- 
tastically arranged  skirt,  purfled  and  caught  up  in  multitudes 
of  tiny  pleats  under  the  breasts  by  a  silk  band  worked  in 
curiously  coloured  needlework  with  Pans  and  I  know  not 
what  strange  Gods.  A  crowd  of  boys  dressed  as  fauns 
and  satyrs  followed,  just  a  delightful  throng  of  tiny  children, 
really  enjoying  themselves  in  the  fine  weather,  bearing  in 
their  hands  olive  boughs  and  myrtles ;  while  beside  the  car 
came  the  maidens  dressed  in  green,  splashed  with  crimson, 
and  worked  in  curious  devices,  in  many  harmonious  colours ; 
and  before  marched  the  young  men,  some  with  long  trumpets, 
some  with  pan-pipes,  some  with  flowers;  and  in  front  of 
them  walked  a  maid,  bearing  a  gold  lyre,  and  beside  her 
a  youth  holding  a  banner  decked  with  olive  boughs. 

But  what  chiefly  delighted  the  crowd  after  all  was  the 


48 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 


grotesque  figure  of  Silenus,  who  followed  the  car  sitting  astride 
an  ass,  between  the  wine  skins,  which  with  much  rude  and  yet 
expressive  pantomime  he  would  lift  and  drink  from,  con- 
tinually spilling  the  wine  over  his  hairy  body,  so  that  it 
dripped  to  the  ground,  making  the  way  crimson.  In  one 
hand  he  carried  a  great  blown  bladder,  with  which  he  be- 
laboured the  ass  and  such  of  the  crowd  as  came  within 
reach,  amid  much  joking  and  shouting,  which  centred  in 
Midas,  that  king  who  was  a  very  ass. 

After  all,  how  different  was  this  Ariadne  in  her  dainty 
clothes  from  any  thought  the  Greeks  ever  had  of  her,  and 
yet  something  that  I  seem  to  have  found  in  every  recollection 
of  what  I  have  heard  or  read  of  that  old  splendid  life  had 
certainly  been  caught  in  that  song  that  the  young  men  were 
singing  in  chorus  with  so  much  "  gusto,"  while  the  maidens 
walked  beside  them: 

"  Quant'e  bella  giovinezza 
Che  si  fugge  tuttavia  ! 
Chi  vuol  esser  lieto  :  sia — 
Di  doman  non  c'e  certezza."  1 

And  indeed  the  whole  city  took  up  the  words ;  and  then, 
the  signal  being  given,  far  away  in  front  a  little  Pan,  (it  was 
in  fact,  a  little  lad  of  my  acquaintance,  whom  I  had  taught  to 
pipe  the  words)  began  the  Trionfo  : 

"  Quest'e  Bacco  e  Arianna 
Belli  e  Fun  dell'altro  ardenti :  2 


How  beautiful  is  youth, 

That  yet  flees  away  always  ! 

He  who  wishes  to  be  merry,  let  him  be  merry, 

Of  to-morrow  there  is  no  certainty." 

This  is  Bacchus  and  Ariadne, 
Lovely  and  loving  the  one  the  other." 


SIGISMONDO  MALATESTA  49 

Perch£  '1  tempo  fugge  e  'nganna 
Sempre  insieme  stan  content!."  l 

Then  the  Pans,  fauns,  nymphs,  and  dryads  "who  followed 
after  answered  in  chorus : 

"  Queste  ninfe  e  altre  genti 
Sono  allegre  tuttavia. 
Chi  vuol  esser  lieto,  sia : 
Di  doman  non  c'£  certezza."  2 

And  the  satyrs  who  drew  the  car  answered  them : 

"  Quest!  lieti  satiretti 
Delle  ninfe  innamorati 
Per  caverne  e  per  boschetti 
Han  lor  posto  cento  aguati : 
Or  da  Bacco  riscaldati, 
Ballon  saltan  tuttavia. 
Chi  vuol  esser  lieto,  sia : 
Di  doman  non  c'£  certezza."  3 

And  the  nymphs  and  dryads  replied  : 

"  Queste  ninfe  hanno  anco  caro 
Da  loro  essere  ingannate  :  4 

1  Since  time  flies  and  is  a  cheat 

They  remain  ever  together  and  are  happy." 

2  "  These  nymphs  and  other  folk 

Are  always  gay. 

Who  wishes  to  be  merry,  let  him  be  merry, 

Of  to-morrow  there  is  no  certainty." 

3  "  These  merry  little  satyrs 

Amorous  of  the  nymphs, 

In  the  caverns  and  the  woods 

Have  laid  a  hundred  snares  for  them  ; 

Now  warmed  by  Bacchus 

They  dance  and  sing  always. 

Who  wishes  to  be  merry,  etc." 

4  '*  And  these  nymphs  are  glad 

To  be  by  them  beguiled : 


50  SIGISMONDO  MALATESTA 

Non  puon  far  a  Amor  riparo 
Se  non  genti  rozze  e  'ngrate  : 
Ora  insieme  mescolate 
Fanno  festa  tuttavia. 
Chi  vuol  esser  lieto,  sia : 
Di  doman  non  c'e"  certezza."  J 

Then  Silenus  raised  his  rough  voice  : 

"  Questa  soma  che  vien  dreto 
Sopra  1'asino,  £  Sileno  : 
Cosi  vecchio  £  ebbro  e  lieto, 
Gia  di  carne  e  d'anni  pieno  : 
Se  non  pud  star  ritto,  almeno 
Ride  e  gode  tuttavia. 
Chi  vuol  esser  lieto,  sia  : 
Di  doman  non  c'e  certezza/'  2 

Then  followed  the  weary,  silly  voice  of  Midas,  amid  the 
laughter  of  the  people : 

"  Mida  vien  dopo  costoro  : 
Cio  che  tocca,  or  a  diventa. 
E  che  giova  aver  tesoro, 
Poiche"  I'uom  non  si  contenta  ? 3 

1  For  one  cannot  resist  love 

Unless  one  be  rough  and  unpleasing : 
Now  all  mingled  together 
Are  making  feast  always. 
Who  wishes  to  be  merry,  etc." 

2  "  This  burden  which  comes  after 

On  the  ass  is  Silenus  : 

He  is  drunken  and  merry  though  he  is  old, 

Very  fat  and  full  of  years  : 

If  he  cannot  stand,  at  least 

He  is  laughing  and  rejoicing  always. 

Who  wishes  to  be  merry,  etc." 

8  "  Midas  comes  after  these  : 

Whatever  he  touches  turns  to  gold. 
But  what  avail  to  have  treasure, 
Since  man  is  never  satisfied  ? 


SIGISMONDO  MALATESTA  51 

Che  dolcezza  vuoi  che  senta 
Chi  ha  sete  tuttavia  ? 
Chi  vuol  esser  lieto,  sia : 
Di  doman  non  c'&  certezza."  J 

As  though  impatient  of  his  eunuch's  voice,  all  the  people 
of  the  procession  sang  in  chorus  : 

"  Ciascun  apra  ben  gli  orecchi : 
Di  doman  nessun  si  paschi  ; 
Oggi  siam,  giovani  e  vecchi, 
Lieti  ognun,  femmine  e  maschi  ; 
Ogni  tristo  pensier  caschi ; 
Facciam  festa  tuttavia. 
Chi  vuol  esser  lieto,  sia  : 
Di  doman  non  c'£  certezza. 

Donne  e  giovanetti  amanti, 
Viva  Bacco  e  viva  Amore  ! 
Ciascun  suoni,  balli  e  canti  ! 
Arda  di  dolcezza  il  core  ! 
Non  fatica,  non  dolore  ! 
Quel  c'ha  esser,  convien  sia. 
Chi  vuol  esser  lieto,  sia  : 
Di  doman  non  c'£  certezza 
Quant'e  bella  giovinezza 
Che  si  fugge  tuttavia."  : 

1  What  sweetness  may  he  feel 
Who  is  always  thirsty  ? 

Who  wishes  to  be  merry,  etc." 

2  "Let  each  open  wide  his  ears : 

On  to-morrow  let  no  one  count ; 
To-day  we  are,  young  and  old, 
All  joyful,  men  and  women. 
Let  us  put  away  sadness. 
Let  us  make  Festa  always. 
Who  wishes  to  be  merry,  etc." 

Youths  and  maidens,  lovers 

Long  live  Bacchus  and  long  live  love ! 

Let  all  make  a  noise  and  dance  and  sing  ! 

Let  the  heart  burn  for  sweetness ! 

Let  there  be  no  toil  nor  sorrow  ! 

What  must  be — let  it  be. 

Who  wishes  to  be  merry,  etc." 


52  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

And  at  last  they  came  to  the  Gattolo,  and  wheeling  round 
about,  with  Signer  Sigismondo  and  Madonna  Ginevra  follow- 
ing, with  their  guard  and  the  maidens  and  women  of  Ginevra, 
they  proceeded  to  the  Piazza  of  the  Forum,  where  were  built 
those  castles  of  wood  that  were  to  be  taken  by  storm  to  show 
the  valour  of  the  youth  of  Rimini  to  Sigismondo.  Then  the 
whole  day  seemed  to  lose  itself  in  noise,  nor  was  it  possible 
for  me  to  speak  with  Sigismondo.  Therefore  I  wandered  down 
to  the  seashore,  quite  deserted  now  and,  in  the  woods  sought, 
as  of  old — well,  Bacchus  and  Ariadne,  and  found  not  them 
indeed,  but  other  gods,  whose  presence  has  continually  brought 
me  comfort.  Thus  on  the  sand  where  the  sea  beat  softly, 
while  the  silver  moon  rode  over  the  waters  crimson  in  the 
sunset,  I  too  was  singing  in  my  heart  the  words  which  rang 
through  the  city : 


"  Quant'£  bella  giovinezza 
Che  si  fugge  tuttavia." 


When  I  returned  to  Rimini  still,  now  and  then,  I  caught 
the  words  coming  to  me  in  the  twilight  down  the  narrow 
ways,  and  in  spite  of  the  boisterous  gaiety,  that  had  become  a 
little  rude  and  rough,  in  the  flare  of  the  torches  and  lamps 
in  the  darkest  ways  and  in  the  Piazza,  a  sort  of  foreboding 
came  to  me  that,  almost  in  indignation,  I  tried  to  shake  off, 
in  vain.  Who  was  I  to  be  sorry  at  the  Festa  of  my  Lord  ? 
Yet  as  I  went  homeward  through  the  quieter  ways  to  avoid 
the  crowds  thoughtlessly  at  play  in  their  fashion,  in  the 
shadow  of  a  church  a  woman,  very  young  still,  came  to  me, 
and,  in  tears,  asked  me  to  bring  her  to  Sigismondo ;  but  I 
would  not,  and  went  my  way.  What  had  I  then  to  do  with 
his  playthings  ?  and  a  broken  plaything  should  not  be  produced 
on  his  Festa. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 


53 


Then  as  I  turned  the  last  corner  I  heard  one  cry  out ;  and 
igain  it  was  a  woman,  but  she  said,  laughing  : 

"  Chi  vuol  esser  lieto,  sia," 

she  fled  from  the  outstretched  hands  of  one  who  pursued 
ler,  entreating: 

"  Di  doman  non  c'£  certezza." 
And  for  this  cause  on  his  Festa  I  came  home  sorrowful. 


IT  was  into  a  sort  of  Pandemonium  that  I  came  when  on 
a  morning  in  April  I  entered  Rome  at  last  as  Sigismondo's 
ambassador,  after  a  journey  full  of  uneasiness,  to  find  the  city 
blocked  by  the  armies  of  Fortebraccio  and  Nicolo  Piccinino, 
the  captains  of  the  Duke  of  Milan.  Traversing  those  noisy 
streets  full  of  people,  who  seemed  like  brigands,  I  learned 
that  though  the  Pope  had  won  over  Sforza  by  giving  him 
the  vicariate  of  the  March  of  Ancona,  of  which  he  had 
possessed  himself,  that  general  had  been  forced  to  fall  back, 
or  at  any  rate  had  done  so,  before  the  armies  of  Milan,  leaving 
the  City  to  its  fate ;  while  the  Pope  himself,  seeing  the  fierce- 
ness and  rage  and  disorder  of  the  people,  had  taken  refuge 
in  S.  Maria  in  Trastevere.  It  was  there  with  the  rest  of 
Rome  I  betook  myself  daily,  trying  in  vain  for  an  audience,  for 
the  Pope  would  see  no  one ;  and  indeed,  had  he  seen  all  who 
waited  on  him  at  that  time,  he  would  but  have  lost  his  time, 
for  the  Romans  were  his  enemies,  ready  to  sacrifice  him  to 
the  Duke  or  the  Council  if  thereby  they  might  escape  the 
siege. 

Seeing  then  that,  for  the  moment  at  any  rate,  it  was 
useless  for  me  to  wait  upon  him  (for  my  credentials  were  not 
examined,  nor  could  I  even  approach  the  church),  and  ex- 
pecting some  disaster  from  day  to  day,  I  wandered  about  the 
city,  thinking  always  of  old  days,  sorry  in  my  heart  for  the 
misery  that  had  befallen  my  country,  longing  for  the  pacifica- 
tion of  Italy. 

I  remember  one  evening,  crossing  the  Tiber  by  the  Ponte 
S.  Angelo,  going  sadly  through  the  deserted  city  (for  indeed 

54 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  55 

the  whole  populace  seemed  to  be  gathered  in  Trastevere),  past 
the  Pantheon,  skirting  the  Quirinal  hill,  climbing  at  last  up  to 
the  Baths  of  Diocletian,  and,  after  some  difficulty,  finding  my 
way  up  above  their  mighty  and  ruined  vaults,  where  the  birds 
had  just  built  their  nests ;  lying  there,  in  the  stillness  and 
silence  among  the  sweet-smelling  herbs  and  bushes  and  a 
thousand  wild  flowers,  about  an  hour  before  sunset  I  looked 
over  Rome.  Ah !  how  can  I  ever  tell  of  the  emotions  that 
filled  my  heart  at  the  sight  of  the  eternal  city  that,  like  a 
beautiful  woman  clothed  in  rags,  lay  under  the  feet  of  the 
ignorant  multitude  ?  It  was  a  city  of  monstrous  ruins  that  I 
saw,  ruins  which  have  lost  their  meaning,  Temples,  Palaces, 
and  Tombs  ruined,  ruined,  ruined.  The  delicate  marbles 
carved  with  inscriptions,  the  precious  bas-reliefs  and  statues  of 
the  gods,  the  beautiful  pillars  and  triumphal  arches,  the  spoil 
and  glory  of  more  than  a  thousand  years,  have  been  burned 
dth  fire  to  make  lime  for  the  hovels  of  the  populace,  the 
istles  of  barbarian  nobles,  the  churches  of  friars.  My  eyes 
filled  with  tears,  and  for  long  I  could  not  refrain  from 
weeping.  For  they  have  used  the  ruins  as  quarries ;  even  the 
walls  have  not  been  spared,  and  have  fallen  not  from  decay, 
but  by  destruction.  Here  and  there  around  me  in  those 
Baths  of  Diocletian  there  were  columns  of  ivory-coloured 
marble  and  porphyry ;  wandering,  on  the  day  before,  along 
the  Appian  Way,  I  had  come  upon  the  tomb  of  Caecilia 
Metella,  as  yet  unspoiled,  while  in  the  Forum  the  Temple  of 
Concord  was  still  standing.  But  of  these  things  the  Roman 
knew  nothing,  he  had  forgotten  the  past,  and  if  he  thought 
of  Rome  it  was  only  as  a  fabulous  city  ;  for  in  looking  at  the 
Coliseum  or  the  Palaces  of  the  Caesars  he  dreamed  they  were 
the  works  of  fiends  under  the  will  of  the  magician  Virgil, 
and  to  him  Zeus  was  an  idol  and  Aphrodite  a  witch  or  a 
strumpet,  and  Apollo  a  devil  singing  to  his  kind  all  through  a 
summer's  day.  And  having  driven  out  the  gods,  they  have 


56  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

left  him  to  his  Crucified.  Yet  Pico,  my  friend,  who  in  his 
ever  young  and  serene  heart  has  found  room  for  Jesus  be- 
side Apollo,  has  rebuked  me  often  enough  for  words  like 
these,  and  in  his  youth  and  enthusiasm  and  beauty  I  have 
seemed  to  foresee,  as  it  were,  Italy  new-born.  But  it  was 
not  so  then. 

As  I  lay  among  the  flowers  that  had  run  among  the 
tombs  and  ruins  of  Rome  on  that  April  evening,  in  my 
heart  there  was  sorrow  and  bitterness.  These  barbarians, 
who  would  hound  a  Pope  to  death,  they  think  not  of 
Evander,  of  Romulus,  or  Cassar.  Yet  I,  Sanseverino,  born 
in  the  Kingdom,  of  no  great  city,  the  son  of  poor  people, 
I  have  seen  the  place  where  Evander's  palace  stood,  and  in  a 
shady  nook,  cool  and  noiseless,  I  have  known  by  the  beating 
of  my  heart  that  here  Cacus  dwelt  beside  the  Tiber.  Ah ! 
in  that  sunset  long  ago  what  ghosts  rose  before  me  out  of 
the  lonely  majesty  of  the  Campagna,  and  I  asked  myself,  in 
the  very  words  of  Petrarch,  where  can  the  Empire  of  the 
world  be  found  except  in  Rome  ?  And  again,  looking  on 
the  city,  I  wept  for  a  long  time. 

Then  in  the  strange  and  burning  light  of  the  sunset, 
that  seemed  to  consume  Rome  as  in  an  immense  conflagra- 
tion, while  from  all  this  city  of  ruins  huge  columns  of  dust 
rose  in  the  evening  and  passed  over  the  city  into  the 
Campagna,  I  saw  those  heroic  spirits  which  from  the  foun- 
dation of  the  city  have  created  and  upheld  the  Roman 
right  to  government  and  dominion.  In  the  loneliness  of 
dawn,  under  a  sky  charged  with  marvels,  Romulus  sat, 
tearless,  a  lonely  king  in  the  desert  on  the  banks  of  the 
tawny  Tiber,  beside  the  body  of  Remus,  whom  he  had  slain; 
and  at  last,  in  the  silence,  I  thought  I  heard  him  weeping. 
Then  I  saw  the  city  that  he  had  founded  upon  the  seven 
hills,  and  out  of  its  gates  it  spewed  an  angry  and  hideous 
multitude  of  men,  who  seemed  to  be  disputing ;  then,  their 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  57 

quarrel  ended,  as  I  thought,  they  re-entered  the  city,  and 
flung  to  the  gates,  and  there  was  left  alone  one  man,  and  in 
his  hand  was  a  broken  crown,  and  by  the  pride  and  cruelty 
of  his  countenance  I  knew  it  was  Tarquinius,  the  last  of  the 
Kings.  And  I  looked  again,  and  I  saw  the  Capitol,  and  one 
dth  a  pale  and  beautiful  face  passionately  harangued  the 
iltitude,  who  flung  themselves  around  his  feet,  thrusting 
their  fists  into  the  air  as  though  making  an  oath;  but 
suddenly  in  my  vision  they  melted  away  into  the  night, 
and  when  it  was  dawn  there  on  the  steps  I  saw  the  body  of 
him  who  was  the  orator,  and  in  his  breast  was  a  dagger,  and 
because  a  woman  with  white  hair,  noble  and  gracious,  wept 
over  him,  and  one  like  to  him  stood  beside  her,  I  knew  I  had 
seen  Tiberius  Gracchus,  the  Tribune  of  the  people.  When 
I  looked  again  the  city  was  in  tumult,  and  at  the  foot  of  the 
hill  of  the  Emperors  a  man  stood  dressed  like  a  soldier,  and 
beside  the  Capitol  stood  another  like  to  him,  yet  fiercer  and 
more  terrible,  and  the  people  fled  from  one  to  the  other,  and 
as  they  passed  to  and  fro  they  left  always  at  the  feet  of  both 
a  growing  heap  of  dead ;  and  in  the  noise  and  tumult  I  could 
distinguish  nothing,  till  suddenly  I  heard  a  thunder  as  of 
beaten  brass,  and  I  saw  one  like  to  a  god,  who  struck  on  the 
brazen  gates  of  the  city  with  a  great  sword  as  though  to 
hew  them  in  pieces,  and  they  were  opened  wide.  Then  on 
the  Sacred  Way  I  saw  upreared  a  mighty  standard  crusted 
with  gems  and  gold  and  emblazoned  with  an  everlasting 
name,  and  over  the  sound  of  trumpets  and  clarions  and  the 
clamour  of  sonorous  metal  I  heard  the  word  "  Caesar "  torn 
from  the  universal  throat  of  the  city,  and  I  knew  that  the 
deliverer  had  come.  But  one  coming  suddenly  behind  him, 
though  he  saw  him  not,  for  his  eyes  were  set  on  the  Capitol, 
struck  him  with  his  dagger,  and  he  fell;  and  there  was 
silence  in  all  the  city,  and  night  came  down  out  of  her 
original  chaos.  And  after  a  time,  hurrying  through  the  night, 


58  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

came  numberless  forms,  some  noble  and  beautiful,  but  none 
like  to  him  who  fell;  some  abject,  some  rude  and  clothed 
in  barbaric  splendour,  some  weak  and  tottering  under  the 
weight  of  the  immense  casque  of  iron  and  of  gold  that  all 
alike  wore,  and  at  last  a  pale  priest,  surrounded  by  slaves 
singing  in  procession,  bearing  a  crucifix,  and  on  his  head  was 
a  triple  crown  of  iron  and  gold  and  ivory.  Then  in  the  dim 
light  of  another  dawn  I  saw  the  city  once  more  full  of 
tumult  and  noise  and  disputing,  and  I  saw  one  with  an  eager 
and  passionate  face  worn  by  dreams  standing  on  the  Capitol, 
and  one  by  one  he  assumed  six  crowns  of  ivy,  myrtle,  laurel, 
oak,  olive,  and  silver,  and  in  his  right  hand  were  the  keys  of 
Peter,  and  in  his  left  the  insignia  of  Rome ;  but  the  crowns 
withered  away,  and  he  fell  to  weeping.  And  I,  awakening 
out  of  the  vision,  saw  in  the  burning  afterglow  of  sunset  the 
city  of  Rome  that  had  filled  my  dream,  the  Rome  of  to-day, 
a  city  of  ruins,  round  which  already  the  wolves  were 
howling.  Then  for  a  long  time  I  sat  in  silence,  till  the 
night  had  filled  the  city,  and  I  gathered  my  cloak  round 
me,  for  it  was  chill  and  the  dew  was  falling,  and  I  went 
back  to  my  house.  And  for  many  days  I  lay  there  burning 
with  fever,  which  they  told  me  I  had  caught  among  the  ruins. 

When  I  was  cured  of  this  sickness  it  was  one  of  the  last 
days  of  May,  and  again  I  went  to  S.  Maria  in  Trastevere  to 
try  to  see  the  Pope,  and  this  time,  by  the  kindness  of  one  of 
his  attendants  whom  I  had  known  when  I  was  a  boy,  I  was 
successful,  though  the  city  was  full  of  tumult.  He  re- 
ceived me  with  much  kindness,  and  listened  to  my  words 
on  behalf  of  Sigismondo,  and  indeed  professed  much  affec- 
tion and  admiration  for  him.  But  indeed  he  was  sick 
with  anxiety  and  fear,  not  knowing  what  was  to  become 
of  him. 

And,  as  it  happened,  I  was  the  last  man  in  Rome  to  speak 
with  him  for  many  years,  for  on  the  following  day  a  crowd 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  59 

besieged  the  church,  demanding  to  see  the  Pope,  who  sent 
his  nephew,  Cardinal  Francesco  Correr,  to  speak  with  them, 
but  he  could  not  agree  to  their  demands.  Then  that  old 
cry,  the  People  and  Liberty,  sounded  through  the  city ;  and 
they  stormed  the  Capitol,  dreaming  of  a  republic  demanding 
at  last  that  S.  Angelo  and  the  Castello  of  Ostia  should  be 
given  them,  and  the  Cardinal  too,  as  a  hostage ;  and  again, 
that  the  Pope  should  take  up  his  residence  in  the  palace  of 
the  Colonna  by  SS.  Apostoli.  And  when  he  refused  they 
threatened  to  make  him  prisoner. 

And  it  happened  that  on  4th  June,  at  midday,  I  was 
walking  in  the  shade  under  the  trees  on  the  Aventine  Hill, 
for  there  was  there  a  monastery  of  Benedictines  full  of 
learned  men.  Hearing  a  tumult,  and  the  shouting  of  a 
great  multitude,  I  ran  in  haste  towards  the  Marmorata, 
wondering  what  this  might  be.  On  the  far  bank  I  saw 
what  indeed  must  have  been  half  the  population  of  the  city 
running  beside  the  river,  some  hurling  huge  stones,  some 
shooting  arrows,  all  cursing  and  spitting  with  rage  at  a 
small  and  rickety  boat  which,  propelled  by  rowers,  hurried 
down  the  mid-stream.  Then  I  became  aware,  for  in  the 
tumult  I  heard  only  the  name  of  Eugenius,  that  it  was  the 
Pope,  who  thus  sought  to  escape  from  the  city,  that  indeed 
he  was  there  in  that  tiny  boat  covered  by  a  shield.  So  I 
too  began  to  run,  following  to  see  the  end,  for  already  the 
boat  was  half  full  of  stones  and  water,  and  many  arrows  had 
pierced  the  planks.  Presently,  as  I  ran,  I  saw  beyond  the 
Church  of  S.  Paolo  another  boat,  that  the  Romans,  running 
before,  had  launched  full  of  armed  men ;  but  he  who  steered 
the  Pope  held  on  his  way,  turning  aside  no  whit  for  this 
other,  which,  being  old,  and  half  sinking  from  the  weight  of 
men,  at  the  last  moment  turned  aside,  so  that  the  Pope  shot 
by  into  safety.  And,  as  I  heard  later,  this  escape  had  been 
long  planned,  but  for  many  days  no  one  could  be  found 


60  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

to  undertake  it,  till  a  pirate,  coming  to  anchor  in  Ostia, 
agreed  to  try ;  and  indeed  it  was  he  who  steered  so  fear- 
lessly. 

And  the  Pope,  coming  to  Ostia  at  last,  went  on  board 
his  ship,  as  we  heard,  and  set  sail  for  Pisa,  where  he  came 
safely,  going  thence  to  Florence,  where,  as  ever,  he  was  re- 
ceived most  courteously. 


VI 

Now,  when  I  returned  to  Rimini  with  this  news,  Sigismondo 
determined  to  set  out  immediately  for  Ferrara,  to  take  advice 
of  his  father-in-law,  the  Marchese  Nicolo  d'Este,  who,  as 
ever,  had  kept  himself  without  the  quarrel  betwixt  Milan 
and  the  Pope,  and  from  the  countless  minor  hatreds  too, 
that  circled  round  this  greater.  For  this  cause  it  was  to 
Sigismondo's  advantage  to  ask  his  advice  and  to  be  related 
to  him.  And  he,  as  he  was  wont  to  do,  spoke  cautiously, 
advising  Sigismondo  to  devote  himself  to  the  protection  of 
his  dominions,  the  which  he  did.  Therefore,  in  spite  of 
the  treason  of  Count  Francesco  Sforza,  who,  though  he  was 
on  the  Pope's  side,  did  not  wish  to  make  a  real  enemy  of 
the  Duke,  the  year  passed  quietly  at  Rimini,  disturbed  from 
time  to  time,  it  is  true,  by  dreadful  news,  such  as  the  murder 
of  the  family  of  the  Varani,  Lords  of  Camarino,  in  the  church 
of  S.  Domenico  in  that  city,  who  were  killed  to  a  man,  save 
one  small  child,  Giulio  Cesare  by  name — and  who  knows 
what  virtue  lay  therein — who  was  saved  by  his  aunt,  for  she 
hid  him  in  a  truss  of  hay,  and  brought  him  safely  to  Foligno, 
placing  him  under  the  protection  of  the  Trinci ;  not  for  long, 
however,  for  they  too  were  massacred  soon  after,  so  that 
she  fled  to  Fabriano,  where,  on  Ascension  Day,  in  the 
following  year,  the  same  fate  befell  the  Chiavistelli,  Lords 
of  that  city.  Indeed,  the  whole  country  was  in  a  state  of 
restlessness  and  conspiracy,  since  the  only  legitimate  Lord 
was  a  fugitive  in  Florence,  and  Sforza,  Piccinino,  and  the 
rest,  with  all  Italy  betting  on  the  result,  seemed  to  be  wander- 
ing at  large  with  their  bands,  not  so  much  in  the  cause  of 
61 


62  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

Milan  or  the  Pope  as  for  other  reasons — the  founding  of  a 
Lordship,  for  instance,  or  the  sacking  of  a  city. 

In  the  meantime,  as  we  heard,  the  affairs  of  the  Pope  not 
in  Italy  alone  were  going  from  bad  to  worse.  And  if  this 
were  so,  it  was  the  fault  of  Eugenius  himself.  Violent  and 
obstinate,  as  I  have  said,  he  had  made  all  those  whom  in  Italy 
he  might  easily  have  conciliated  his  foes,  and  it  was  these 
who  gave  strength  to  the  Council  at  Basle,  which  he  knew 
not  how  to  govern  or  to  dismiss.  Really  a  fugitive  in  Florence, 
though,  as  ever,  the  Florentines  received  him  graciously,  he 
had  gone  to  that  city  at  a  moment  very  unfortunate  for  the 
furtherance  of  his  plans,  since  there  too  men  were  divided 
in  their  allegiance.  For  the  old  balance  between  the  populace 
and  the  aristocracy  was  about  to  be  destroyed,  and  for  the 
moment  Messer  Rinaldo  degli  Albizzi,  he  who  loved  Carlo 
Malatesta,  and  sent  Cosimo  de'  Medici  into  exile,  was  in  power. 
Only  for  a  moment,  as  it  proved,  for  in  September  1 434,  the 
new  magistrates  wishing  to  recall  Cosimo,  Rinaldo,  with  some 
eight  hundred  armed  men,  had  barricaded  the  Palace  of  the 
Podesta,  hoping  thus  to  win  the  city.  In  this  tumult,  seeing 
that  his  own  affairs  were  not  like  to  prosper,  Eugenius  offered 
himself  as  a  mediator.  Therefore  he  sent  to  Rinaldo,  Vitel- 
leschi,  that  soldier  who  was  even  then  Bishop  of  Recanati, 
and  he,  by  what  means  I  know  not,  persuaded  him  to  come  to 
the  Pope  by  night  at  S.  Maria  Novella.  Now,  what  passed 
between  them  no  man  knows ;  but  at  dawn  Rinaldo  dismissed 
his  army,  remaining  himself  with  the  Pope.  And  his  enemies, 
seeing  their  moment  was  come,  went  to  Eugenius,  and  thanked 
him,  thus,  as  some  have  thought,  surprising  him  into  an 
abandonment  of  Rinaldo.  However  this  may  be,  early  in 
October,  the  recall  of  Cosimo  was  decreed,  and  Rinaldo  with 
his  son  was  sent  into  exile.  It  is  said  that  the  Pope  ventured 
to  excuse  himself,  protesting  his  honesty  in  the  affair.  But, 
as  I  have  heard,  Rinaldo  answered  him :  "  Holy  Father,  how 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  63 

can  I  wonder  at  my  ruin  ?  Did  I  not  believe  that  you  who 
have  been  thrown  out  of  your  own  country  could  keep  me 
in  mine  ?  He  is  a  blind  man  without  a  guide  who  trusts 
the  word  of  a  priest."  It  was  thus  the  Medici  gained  pos- 
session of  Florence. 

Certainly  towards  the  end  of  the  year  things  began  to 
look  better  for  the  Pope,  in  Rome  at  any  rate.  For  Vitel- 
leschi  took  possession  of  the  city,  and  put  many  of  the 
popular  party  to  death ;  but  the  Pope  remained  in  Florence, 
renewing  later  with  Venice  the  league  against  the  Duke  of 
Milan;  and  they  appointed  as  their  general  Francesco  Sforza, 
and  sent  him  southward  against  Fortebraccio,  who,  in  the 
pay  of  the  Duke,  lurked  around  Rome. 

But  if  the  affairs  of  the  Pope  seemed  none  so  bad  in 
Rome  and  the  Romagna,  in  the  Kingdom  they  looked  bad 
enough.  For  Louis  of  Anjou,  dying  in  November  1434, 
the  King  of  Aragon  began  to  bestir  himself,  for  he  had  been 
adopted  by  the  Queen  Giovanna  II.,  who  would  now  have 
none  of  him,  favouring,  as  she  did,  Rene,  Count  of  Provence, 
brother  of  Louis.  It  was  to  him  in  her  will  she  left  the 
kingdom  when  she  died,  not  long  after,  in  February  1435; 
but  the  Pope,  deeming  that  crown  tributary  to  the  Holy  See, 
appointed  Vitelleschi  as  legate  to  the  Kingdom,  raising  him 
for  this  cause  to  the  Patriarchate  of  Alexandria ;  but  Aragon 
heeded  him  not. 

It  was  in  the  midst  of  all  this  unrest  that  the  Marchese 
Nicolo  d'Este  betrothed  his  son  Leonello  to  Margherita 
Gonzaga  of  Mantua,  and  in  the  new  year,  1435,  Sigismondo 
with  Madonna  Ginevra  went  to  Ferrara  to  greet  them, 
returning  to  Rimini  on  the  i7th  of  February.  And  partly 
on  the  advice  of  the  Marchese,  and  partly  because  his  heart 
jumped  that  way,  and  he  was  tired  of  waiting  idle  while 
Sforza  carved  a  dukedom  for  himself  and  Piccinino  sought 
a  lordship,  and  partly,  again,  because  Sforza  had  told  him 


64  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

how  welcome  he  would  be,  he  went  to  Florence,  taking 
with  him  Messer  Pier  Giovanni  de'  Brugnoli  as  his  secretary, 
and  me  too  as  his  orator,  chiefly,  as  I  think,  because  I  had 
seen  the  Pope  in  Rome. 

The  opening  stage  of  our  journey  brought  us  along  the 
jEmilian  Way  in  golden  weather  as  it  happened,  for  the 
pleasant  springtime  had  begun,  and  around  Rimini  gay  were 
all  the  hills,  already  covered  with  flowers,  the  trees  clothed 
with  leaves,  and  the  olive  gardens  green  with  crops  and 
scattered  with  poppies.  The  aspect  of  this  country,  full  of 
signs  of  the  sea — the  wind-blown  trees,  the  frailness  of  the 
grass — with  here  and  there  hills  gently  rising  covered  with 
vineyards,  or  ploughed  for  crops  and  already  green,  is  sweet 
and  lovely;  the  valleys  too  between  them  are  lively  with 
eternal  waters,  the  lovely  songs  of  streams ;  and  even  the 
great  plain  itself  seemed  to  be  joyful  in  the  spring. 

Through  the  woods  we  went,  leaving  the  highway  from 
time  to  time,  for  the  sun  was  hot  and  the  way  through  the 
pines  sometimes  the  shorter,  and  there  the  birds  were  singing 
most  sweetly.  Ah  !  how  can  I  tell  my  delight  after  the  long 
winter  in  Rimini  ? 

Sometimes  as  we  went  we  came  upon  a  man  ploughing, 
or  a  cart  halted  at  the  wayside  in  the  shadow  of  a  pine- 
tree,  or  in  the  villages  a  company  of  children  playing  beside 
the  way ;  and  everywhere  signs  of  that  old  Rome  we  have 
so  loved,  in  the  strength  and  persistence  of  the  Way,  its 
straightness  and  breadth,  while  here  and  there  a  ruined 
column  told  of  some  ancient  or  splendid  thing. 

It  was  beside  one  of  these  that  I,  lingering  a  little  in 
the  rear,  found  the  company  halted,  and  Sigismondo  standing 
in  his  stirrups  reading  the  inscription,  a  decree  of  the  Roman 
Senate  threatening  to  punish  any  who  should  without 
authority  trespass  into  Italy  beyond  the  Rubicon ;  and  from 
this  we  learned  that  we  had  crossed  that  stream  unknowing, 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  65 

1,  without  a  thought  of  Caesar  (save  that  the  road,  an 
:ernal  monument,  had  continually  reminded  us  of  him  and 
of  Augustus),  were  come  really  into  Cisalpine  Gaul,  leaving 
Italy  behind  us. 

At  midday  we  halted  beside  a  spring  which  gushed  out 
most  limpidly  under  the  dark  green  leaves  of  the  wild  ivy 
and  vines,  and  Sigismondo  ordered  dinner  to  be  served 
there  by  the  roadside ;  for  indeed  the  magic  of  spring  had 
touched  him  also,  and,  as  he  declared  to  me,  a  house  was 
but  a  poor  substitute  for  a  green  bank  and  the  blue  sky, 
and  flutes  but  feeble  music  beside  the  noise  of  waters.  And 
just  here  the  stream  gushed  out  between  the  rocks  so 
generously  that  four  millstones  would  have  required  no 
more.  The  brook  which  made  so  delicious  a  music  presently 
spread  out  its  waters  into  a  broad  lake,  no  deeper  than  a 
man,  clear  as  crystal,  cold  and  sweet,  so  that  one  might  see 
the  pebbles  shining  at  the  bottom.  Above  this  spring  we 
dined,  drinking  draughts  of  the  fresh  water,  and  though  we 
had  wine  we  touched  it  not,  for  the  coldness  of  the  water 
was  pleasant  after  the  journey  of  the  morning.  Presently 
many  gathered  from  the  village  hard  by  to  look  at  our 
cavalcade,  which  was  as  splendid  as  might  be,  and  to  these 
we  gave  food  and  wine.  And  some  of  them  in  return,  to 
gratify  Sigismondo,  entered  the  stream,  and,  moving  against 
the  current,  began  to  fish ;  while  Sigismondo  moved  along  the 
bank  watching  them,  for  there  were  meadows  there  and 
fields.  At  every  capture,  and  they  were  not  few,  a  shout 
was  raised,  and  this  continuing  some  time,  as  we  prepared  to 
continue  our  journey  they  brought  the  trout  to  us,  for  the 
stream  produced  nothing  else,  and  gave  them  to  the  servants. 

So  we  went  that  day  and  the  next,  coming  to  the 
mountains  in  the  same  golden  weather,  that  held  all  through 
our  journey.  And  after  the  first  day's  climbing,  very  weary, 
we  came  in  the  twilight  to  a  great  monastery  as  we  thought, 

E 


66 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 


but  it  proved  to  be  but  the  ruins  of  one,  in  which  certainly 
many  monks  must  once  have  sung  divine  praises  ;  but  now 
crows  kept  watch  and  doves,  and  now  and  again  I  heard  the 
screech-owl  intone  its  lament,  like  a  funeral  song.  Around 
lay  woods  of  chestnuts.  How  can  I  tell  of  the  silence  of 
such  a  place,  of  its  weirdness  and  strange,  haunting,  not  quite 
reasonable,  beauty  ?  In  a  moment  I  seemed  to  be  back  in 
Germany  again,  to  be  moving  in  the  cold,  faint,  mysterious 
light  of  that  wild  country,  where  the  churches  are  full  of 
strange  voices  ;  and  angels,  ambiguous  beings,  good  or  evil 
I  know  not,  seem  to  whisper  from  the  belfries  and  the  great 
invisible  roofs,  that  are  upheld,  as  it  were,  by  the  branches  of 
trees  turned  to  stone,  where  the  sun  never  penetrates.  There 
we  slept,  in  the  nave  of  the  church,  not  without  setting 
watch. 

Next  morning  early  we  went  on  our  way  again,  and, 
crossing  the  mountains,  came  at  last,  without  any  adventure, 
into  the  valley  of  Arno  at  sunset,  where  also  are  woods, 
natural  or  formed  by  art  ;  nor  is  there  a  hillock  on  which  the 
Florentines  have  not  built  splendid  suburban  villas  and  estates 
—  here  a  noble  monastery  inhabited  by  holy  men,  there  the 
homes  of  citizens.  And  as  it  happened  we  came  to  Florence 
itself  after  the  gates  were  shut,  so  that  we  slept  that  night 
at  the  great  inn  outside  the  Porta  S.  Gallo,  very  gay  and  full 
of  mountebanks,  for  the  people  seem  to  resort  there  for  all 
sorts  of  amusements. 

On  the  following  day  I  made  my  way  through  the  city, 
in  which,  as  it  seems  now,  I  am  to  spend  my  last  years,  past 
the  old  convent  of  S.  Marco,  that  was  rebuilt  by  our  Michel- 
ozzo  some  years  later,  past  the  great  new  house  of  the 
Medici  to  the  Duomo,  whose  dome  was  just  finished,  still 
wanting  the  lantern,  but  was  even  so  the  wonder  of  the 
world,  and  after  pausing  to  consider  this  miracle  I  came  at 
ast  to  S.  Maria  Novella,  where  after  a  time  I  was  brought 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  67 

to  the  Pope,  who  welcomed  me,  and  asked  many  things  con- 
cerning Sigismondo,  whom  he  desired  to  see  most  eagerly. 
And  there  too  I  met  many  of  the  Medici  house,  who  when 
they  learned  that  the  Lord  of  Rimini  was  lodged  in  an  inn, 
insisted  on  returning  with  me  to  that  place,  for  they  swore 
no  house  but  their  own  should  shelter  so  fine  a  soldier. 
And  Sigismondo  when  he  heard  it  agreed  to  go  with  them 
and  to  accept  of  their  hospitality  while  he  stayed  in  Florence. 

In  those  days  it  was  the  custom,  but  not  now,  for  the 
Republics  to  take  into  their  pay  certain  captains,  Condottieri 
as  they  were  called,  who  having  made  themselves  masters  of 
a  band  of  soldiers,  and  being  famous  and  renowned  for  their 
victories,  fought  in  what  cause  pleased  them  or  paid  them 
best,  and  such  were  Francesco  Sforza  and  Piccinino  Forte- 
braccio,  Gattemalata,  Carmagnola,  Colleone,  and  in  truth 
Pandolfo  and  Carlo  Malatesta.  Therefore  Sigismondo,  in 
taking  service  with  the  Pope,  was  but  following  in  the  foot- 
steps of  his  ancestors,  and  since  he  had  set  Glory  before  him 
as  his  reward  there  seemed  no  better  way  than  this  of 
winning  it.  But  for  the  moment  certainly,  in  the  company  of 
Cosimo  de'  Medici  and  his  friends,  he  was  more  than  willing 
to  leave  to  Messer  Pier  Giovanni,  his  secretary,  and  to  Cardinal 
Francesco  Correr,  the  Pope's  nephew,  the  arrangement  and 
negotiations  of  the  terms  of  his  service,  forgetful  of  his 
ambition  in  his  curiosity  to  gaze  upon  a  city  so  famous  and 
so  invincible,  a  city  of  flowers  too,  even  at  that  time,  when  in 
the  most  unlikely  places  the  first  roses  of  the  year  seemed  to 
have  blossomed,  as  it  were,  for  his  coming. 

There  were  other  surprises  too  in  the  fierce  old  city  that 
seemed  to  Sigismondo  to  have  assumed  every  superiority,  to 
be  beautiful  naturally  almost  and  without  contrivance,  in  such 
a  natural  thing  as  the  Campanile  for  instance,  built  by  Messer 
Giotto  Bondone,  which  towered  there  beside  the  Duomo 
really  like  a  lily,  with  all  the  airy  lightness  and  ease  and 


68  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

unconscious  loveliness  of  the  Flower  this  city  had  chosen  to 
wear  on  its  shield.  Why  had  Rimini  nothing  to  compare  with 
such  a  thing  as  that?  And  again,  how  rude  our  old  city 
seemed,  almost  a  mere  fortress,  a  mere  stronghold  of  bar- 
barians, beside  this  lovely  and  surprising  place,  where  a  work 
so  modern,  so  full  of  new  thoughts,  as  the  church  of  S. 
Lorenzo,  just  then  being  built  by  these  Medici  and  other 
families  of  the  city,  their  famous  architect,  Messer  Filippo 
Brunelleschi,  making  the  design  for  them,  could  spring  up 
without  exciting  too  much  enthusiasm  after  all ;  men  thinking 
such  wonders  natural  enough  it  seemed.  And  indeed  all 
men's  thoughts  seemed  bent  on  making  the  city  beautiful,  in 
building  fine  Palaces  and  Churches,  or  in  seeking  the  best 
painters  and  sculptors  to  decorate  them.  And  yet  these 
Medici,  who  were  foremost  in  all  such  work,  who  were  the 
friends  of  philosophers  and  artists,  what  were  they  but  trades- 
men after  all  ?  Yet  indeed  they  were  courtly  enough,  full 
of  kindness  too ;  one  might  even  get  a  hint  now  and  then  from 
them  as  to  the  best  and  most  gentle  modern  way  of  approach- 
ing a  lady,  or  wearing  a  doublet,  or,  surprising  as  it  might 
seem,  in  manners  generally,  a  certain  easiness  and  self- 
control  that  should  be  surely  the  right  of  birth,  that  was 
difficult  enough  to  assume  at  any  rate,  especially  when  one 
was  surrounded  by  strange  and  curious  things. 

It  was  in  those  days,  so  full  of  animation,  really  new  for 
Sigismondo,  that  I  watched  him  grow  from  a  naive  and  pas- 
sionate country  boy,  for  indeed  he  was  little  more  than  a 
boy,  into  a  polished  and  most  courteous  Lord,  the  strange, 
hard  beauty  of  his  face,  cruel,  delicate,  and  yet  strong,  brought 
out  to  the  full  by  the  fine  linen  and  clothes  necessary  for  life 
in  such  a  city,  and  lighted  up  by  the  enthusiasm  and  excite- 
ment with  which  he  would  talk  with  Cosimo  himself,  or 
Messer  Leon  Battista  Alberti,  just  then  the  chief  ornament 
of  what  was  a  court  in  all  but  name. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  69 

And  certainly  those  whom  Sigismondo  met  in  Florence  at 
this  time  influenced  him  deeply,  so  that  it  was  from  this  visit 
sprang  his  dreams,  for  instance,  of  rebuilding  Rimini,  which 
later  came  so  near  to  success  and  caused  so  much  wonder, 
enthusiasm,  and  hatred  too.  For  he  found  in  the  house  of 
Cosimo  not  soldiers  and  statesmen  alone  among  a  brilliant  and, 
for  the  most  part,  frivolous  crowd  of  young  men  and  women, 
but  scholars  and  artists  also — to  wit,  Messer  Lorenzo  Ghiberti, 
who  as  a  young  man  had  painted  in  the  Gattolo  of  the  Mala- 
testa  in  fresco,  just  then  busy  with  his  memoirs ;  Frate  Filippo 
Lippi  too,  a  delightful  companion,  whose  nights  were  a 
mystery,  whose  days,  as  he  would  proclaim,  were  a  long  and 
impassioned  labour;  and  above  all  Messer  Leon  Battista 
Alberti. 

It  was  in  the  company  of  this  last,  a  man  of  noble  family, 
but  a  bastard,  that  much  of  Sigismondo's  time  was  spent, 
Messer  Battista  having  a  particular  liking  for  him  for  his  naive 
and  simple  country  ways,  I  think,  and  for  his  fearlessness  and 
strength.  And  with  him  Sigismondo  talked  of  many  things  : 
of  his  ambition,  which  was  boundless ;  of  his  dreams  for  Rimini, 
that  was  to  be  a  city  of  palaces  and  fortresses  in  the  new  man- 
ner; of  war  and  arms  and  the  art  of  government;  of  sovereign 
remedies  against  fatigues  and  wounds;  of  swords  and  engines 
of  war ;  of  difficult  feats  of  engineering ;  of  the  taking  and 
destroying  of  castles,  and  of  the  building  of  them  too ;  of  the 
beauty  and  strength  of  horses  and  their  swiftness ;  of  hunting 
and  of  dogs  ;  of  women  and  the  stars  ;  of  love,  lust,  and  death — 
those  three  agonies  for  which  there  is  no  remedy ;  of  family 
life,  of  which  Messer  Leon  Battista  was  so  hopeful,  in  which 
he  was  to  be  so  unfortunate ;  of  Art  and  painting  and  sculp- 
ture, and  of  the  learning  of  Petrarch  and  Boccaccio ;  and  he 
promised  to  show  Sigismondo  the  house  of  the  latter  in  the 
village  of  Corbignano,  the  which  he  did,  and  his  discourse 
there  led  me  first  to  think  of  these  writers  rather  as  men  who 


70  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

had  given  us  back  the  dead  than  as  poets  or  novelists 
themselves. 

Then  in  the  company  of  his  new  friends,  following  Cosimo 
de'  Medici,  Sigismondo  would  ride  out  early  for  a  day's  hunt- 
ing, or  in  this  very  villa,  where  I  am  now  writing  of  him, 
they  would  pass  the  day  with  certain  fair  ladies,  talking 
doubtless  of  many  fine  and  serious  things,  not  in  the  eager 
and  yet  languid  way,  a  little  hysterical  as  I  have  thought,  and 
apt,  as  I  have  seen,  to  degenerate  into  a  fantastic  sort  of  love- 
making  over  the  books  of  Plato,  which  is  now  the  custom, 
but  in  the  simpler  way  that  was  the  fashion  in  Cosimo's  time, 
that  I  myself,  being  old-fashioned  I  suppose,  must  always 
prefer,  though  whether  it  were  really  more  serious  than  our 
later  manner  I  know  not  after  all. 

And  then,  as  though  to  crown  these  days,  certainly  not  of 
idleness,  to  give  them  really  a  serious  meaning,  and  to  weight 
one  so  eager  for  life  with  a  real  sense  of  responsibility,  he 
was  given  a  part  in  that  gamble  for  power  that  behind  all 
the  glamour  and  beauty  of  a  city  like  this  was  being  played 
so  ruthlessly,  but,  as  I  have  sometimes  thought,  without 
any  real  knowledge  of  what  was  at  stake.  How  splendid 
seemed  that  ceremony  in  which,  with  all  the  city  as  witness, 
he  took  his  oath  of  allegiance  to  the  Pope  and  swore  to 
serve  him  well  and  faithfully! 

It  was  one  of  the  last  days  of  March  when,  riding  alone, 
wearing  the  silver  helmet  of  Carmagnola,  his  companions 
following,  a  gay  company  fluttering  with  banners,  Sigismondo 
went  in  state  through  the  hot  streets  before  the  whole  city 
to  receive  the  Pope's  investiture  in  the  presence  of  Cosimo 
de'  Medici,  the  Venetian  orator,  and  Paolo  di  Varni  dei 
Rucellai  among  others.  And  when  he  had  taken  the  oath 
the  Pope  gave  him  to  his  lordship  Cervia,  that  city  which  he 
had  fortified,  and  which  had  once  belonged  to  the  dominion  of 
Carlo.  I  remember  as  we  came  back  through  the  streets, 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  71 

deserted  now,  the  thunder  was  rolling  in  the  hills  towards 
Vallombrosa,  and  great  drops  of  rain  began  to  fall  as  we 
entered  the  house  of  the  Medici,  and  indeed  by  sunset  the 
city  was  lost  in  the  rain.  Was  it  thus  I  found,  as  in  a  parable, 
all  his  splendour  was  to  end  in  misery  ? 

The  "  Ferma "  which  Messer  Pier  Giovanni  and  the 
Cardinal  Condulmieri  had  prepared  for  Sigismondo,  binding 
him  for  six  months  to  the  Pope's  service,  took  effect,  as  it 
proved,  on  i  st  April ;  from  that  date  Sigismondo  was  to  serve 
in  the  pay  of  the  Pope  and  Church.  He  was  to  lead  two 
hundred  "lancia"  consisting  in  all  of  six  hundred  men  on 
horseback,  against  anyone  soever  who  invaded  the  Papal 
states.  Now  his  company,  consisting  thus  of  six  hundred 
men  with  horses,  was  to  be  equipped  with  la  celatta,  the 
casquet,  il  petto,  the  breastplate,  and  la  panciera,  the  cuirass, 
and  was  to  be  armed  with  lance  or  cross-bow  according  as  each 
man  was  the  better  skilled  in  one  or  other.  There  were  to 
be  Pages,  also  mounted  on  ronzini,  our  Romagna  ponies.  So 
long  as  Sigismondo  was  with  his  company  in  the  lands  of  his 
vicariate,  or  not  more  than  a  day's  march  (twenty  miles)  dis- 
tant from  them,  he  was  to  receive  four  and  a  half  gold  Florins 
for  the  maintenance  of  every  lancia — that  is  to  say,  some  nine 
hundred  gold  Florins  in  all  every  month,  besides  one  hundred 
gold  Florins  on  his  own  account ;  but  if  he  were  ordered  to  go 
out  of  his  vicariate  he  was  to  receive  twice  as  much  as  the 
above,  and  within  the  lands  of  the  Church  dwelling  and  ac- 
commodation for  himself  and  his  troops  according  as  it  should 
be  possible  in  any  place.  All  was  to  be  ready  within  ten 
days  after  the  first  money  was  paid,  and  at  that  time  the  men 
and  horses  were  to  be  passed  in  review.  Moreover,  the  men 
were  to  be  enlisted  and  described  by  Christian  name  and 
surname  and  place  of  birth,  and  the  horses  to  be  noted 
according  to  their  colour  and  other  signs  in  the  usual  way. 


72  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

Thus  Sigismondo  returned  to  Rimini  a  soldier  of  the  Pope, 
eager  enough  for  service,  we  may  be  sure,  and  anxious  to 
distinguish  himself,  that  that  Fame  which  he  had  coveted 
might  indeed  be  his. 

Now,  the  state  of  affairs  at  this  time  in  Italy  was  some- 
what as  follows : — Francesco  Sforza  at  the  Pope's  order  was 
besieging  Assisi,  expecting  to  take  it  presently  unless  new 
reinforcements  reached  Fortebraccio,  whose  troops  were  not 
so  great  in  number  as  before  the  Patriarch  Vitelleschi  had 
taken  Monte  Fiascone  from  him.  Nevertheless,  the  Pope 
thought  Fortebraccio  might  be  j  oined  by  Francesco,  the  son 
of  Piccinino,  who  was  to  enter  Romagna  from  Bologna  as  soon 
as  he  had  received  reinforcements  from  his  father,  and  thence 
he  was  to  advance  by  way  of  the  mountains  to  Borgo  S.  Sepol- 
cro  by  leave  of  the  Ordelaffi  of  Forli.  Therefore  Sigismondo 
was  ordered  to  go  with  his  company  to  ravage  the  territory 
of  ForR,  for  it  was  hoped  thus,  either  that  the  people  of 
Forli  would,  from  fear,  drive  out  the  Ordelaffi  and  admit 
Sigismondo,  or  that  at  the  least  the  neighbouring  moun- 
taineers would  be  roused  to  oppose  the  march  of  Francesco 
Piccinino.  And  Sigismondo  with  Domenico  his  brother 
quickly  made  ready,  and  falling  on  Forlimpopoli,  a  stronghold 
on  a  round  hill  not  far  from  Forli,  took  it  from  the  Ordelaffi ; 
but  Francesco  Piccinino  coming  to  the  aid  of  that  city, 
Sigismondo  began  to  lay  waste  the  country  as  he  retreated. 
About  that  time  Francesco  Sforza,  meeting  Fortebraccio  in 
battle,  routed  his  army,  and  slew  him,  and  for  this  cause  the 
Duke  thought  best  to  come  to  terms  with  the  Pope,  who  thus 
regained  the  Patrimony  of  St  Peter  and  the  Romagna,  peace 
being  signed  in  Florence  on  the  loth  of  August,  Sforza 
holding  the  Lordship  of  Ancona. 

Nor  was  this  all,  for  on  the  5th  of  the  same  month,  off 
Gaeta,  the  Genoese,  at  that  time  under  the  lordship  of  the 
Duke,  met  and  defeated  King  Alfonso  on  the  seas,  Aragon  him- 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  73 

self  and  his  two  brothers,  with  the  flower  of  his  barons,  being 
taken  prisoners.  Now  this  victory,  which  astonished  all  Italy, 
was  soon  seen  to  cut  both  ways,  and  one  more  than  the  other. 
For  if  the  Pope  were  rid  of  a  foe  in  the  fall  of  Alfonso,  that 
same  fall  left  the  Duke  master  of  the  Kingdom  and,  if  this 
were  so  indeed,  master  of  Italy.  The  Duke  too  saw  how 
well  Fortune  served  him,  for  Alfonso  told  him  that  if  he  were 
king  of  Naples  it  would  be  to  his  interest  to  live  on  good 
terms  with  Milan,  who  could  at  any  moment  open  the  way 
for  Rene  of  Anjou  to  enter  Italy,  while  again,  if  Rene  were 
king,  he  would  certainly  try  to  establish  the  French  in  Milan. 
Therefore  the  Duke  forbade  the  Genoese  to  bring  home 
their  illustrious  captives  to  Genoa  in  triumph,  and  ordered 
them  also  to  return  the  ships  they  had  captured  ;  and  Alfonso 
was  brought  into  Milan,  and  entertained  courteously  by  the 
Duke,  who  later  sent  him  back  to  Naples,  whence  he  came 
to  Gaeta,  which  on  his  liberation  had  fallen  into  the  hands  of 
some  nobles  of  his  party.  But  the  Genoese,  enraged  at  these 
insults,  joined  the  league  of  Venice,  Florence,  and  the  Pope. 

Seeing,  then,  that  Milan  was  about  to  make  alliance  with 
the  King  of  Aragon,  the  Pope  named  Rene  of  Anjou, 
prisoner  at  that  time  in  Burgundy,  as  king.  And  both  Rene 
and  Aragon  being  beggared,  the  war  went  on  among  their 
partisans  in  the  Kingdom  without  either  gaining  much  advan- 
tage. Thus  was  Italy  divided  against  itself. 

But  for  Sigismondo  the  year  ended  not  without  encourage- 
ment. For  when  he  had  reclaimed  from  the  Count  of  Urbino 
the  heritage  of  Rengarda,  his  father's  sister,  the  first  wife  of 
Guidantonio,  the  Count  had  for  answer  assailed  Pergola.  But 
in  October  it  was  agreed  that  Domenico  should  betroth  him- 
self to  the  daughter  of  Guidantonio,  then  just  five  years  old, 
and  in  the  same  month  Sigismondo  was  made  guardian  of 
Bologna  on  behalf  of  the  Church. 


VII 

THAT  journey  to  Florence,  so  full  of  a  new  sort  of  delight  for 
Sigismondo,  was,  as  I  know,  never  far  from  his  thoughts  all 
through  the  following  winter,  when  his  men  being  in  quarters 
he  was  planning  how  he  might  make  his  city  not  unworthy 
of  his  ambition.  In  those  long  winter  evenings  in  the  Gattolo, 
ah !  how  often  I  have  watched  his  enthusiasm,  rejoicing  with 
him  too  over  the  splendid  things  that  he  would  bring  to  pass. 
How  eagerly  he  would  lean  over  those  great  plans  for  beauti- 
ful and  impregnable  fortresses,  or  diagrams  of  the  almost 
marvellous  means  one  might  employ  for  the  draining  or  turn- 
ing aside  of  rivers,  or  certain  drawings,  mere  sketches  as  I 
thought  them,  of  great  churches,  the  work  of  Messer  Leon 
Battista  Alberti.  Or  again  on  a  fine  morning  he  would  ride 
out  with  me  and  some  few  whom  he  loved,  and  after  a  day's 
hunting  perhaps  he  would  speak  to  me  of  the  way  one  might 
tame  lions  or  rule  an  untamed  horse  or  break  in  a  pack  of 
hounds.  And  then, an  opportunity  presenting  itself  in  the  early 
spring,  he  set  out  again  for  Florence  really,  as  I  think,  for  the 
satisfaction  of  being  in  so  fine  a  place,  or  may  be  for  the  sake 
of  consulting  Messer  Leon  Battista  Alberti,  but  ostensibly  at 
any  rate  for  the  renewal  of  the  Ferma,  which  had  expired  at 
the  end  of  September.  This  time,  however,  he  went  without 
me,  but  in  goodly  company  nevertheless,  gaining  the  city  at 
last,  as  he  wrote  me,  good-humouredly,  before  sunset,  and 
proceeding  at  once  to  the  house  of  the  Medici,  where  he  was 
guest,  and  indeed  some  of  them  rode  out  to  meet  him  beyond 
the  Porta  alia  Croce. 

He  seems  to  have  met  all  his  old  friends  there  in  Florence 

74 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  75 

and  to  have  made  new  ones ;  for  the  city  was  in  festa  for  the 
consecration  by  the  Pope  of  S.  Reparata,  which  happened  on 
the  day  of  Our  Lady,  when  the  Pope,  being  still  in  S.  Maria 
Novella,  the  Florentines,  ever  glad  of  an  opportunity  to  show 
off  their  wealth  and  their  own  greatness,  (for  indeed,  as  I  know, 
they  are  true  brethren  of  Dante  Alighieri,  who  was  so  scorn- 
ful,) they  built  on  a  scaffolding  a  platform  more  than  six  feet 
in  height  and  twelve  feet  wide,  covered  with  every  sort  of  rich 
stuff,  from  that  church  to  the  Duomo,  and  by  this  way  came 
the  Pope  with  his  Court  and  the  chief  magistrates  and  other 
officers  appointed  to  take  part  in  the  procession.  By  that 
way  too  went  Sigismondo,  since  the  Pope  liked  to  have  his 
Captain  near  him,  much  to  his  own  satisfaction,  for  he  delighted 
in  every  sort  of  splendour,  and  especially  in  processions,  which 
he  would  often  devise  himself  for  his  pleasure  and  glory,  as  I 
have  said.  And  that  day  indeed  he  had  his  fill  of  honour,  for 
the  Pope  wishing  to  please  the  city  which  had  given  him 
shelter,  and  thinking  that  he  might  not  long  have  the  oppor- 
tunity, knighted  on  that  day  the  Gonfaloniere  of  Justice, 
Giuliano  Davanzati,  who  for  this  got  the  government  of  Pisa, 
and  from  among  them  all  the  Pope  chose  out  Sigismondo  to 
arm  him,  and  that  was  thought  a  great  honour.  So  Sigismondo 
came  home  again,  and  we,  who  had  the  news  before  him,  bade 
him  welcome,  believing  great  things  for  him  and  Rimini. 

Not  long  after,  in  April,  Pope  Eugenius,  whose  affairs 
seemed  to  be  improving,  left  Florence  for  Bologna,  where  he 
came  in  state  with  nine  Cardinals,  yet  not  wholly,  as  I  know, 
to  the  satisfaction  of  the  people,  who  had  no  reason  to  rejoice 
at  the  papal  rule. 

And  affairs  in  Romagna  too  were  by  no  means  settled,  nor 
were  the  Ordelaffi  disposed  of  by  the  peace  of  August  1435, 
though  in  that  peace  the  Pope  offered  them  the  vicariate  of 
Forll,  leaving  Bulls  to  this  effect  with  Cosimo  de' Medici,  should 
they  see  fit  to  pay  annual  tribute  to  the  Holy  See.  But  time 


76  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

went  on,  and  they  paid  nothing,  concerning  themselves  only, 
as  might  have  been  expected,  in  winning  back  their  lordship. 
Therefore  when  May  came  Francesco  Sforza  was  ordered  to 
move  from  the  March  of  Ancona  and  to  come  into  the  Romagna; 
and  it  happened  that  when,  on  the  1 4th,  he  arrived  in  Rimini 
orders  reached  him  of  war  against  the  Ordelaffi.  You  may 
imagine  how  glad  were  Sigismondo  and  Domenico  of  this  news, 
for  though  the  winter  had  been  full  of  work,  and  Sigismondo 
at  anyrate  had  lost  himself  in  plans  for  the  future,  as  always, 
he  loved  best  that  moment  when  action  was  necessary.  In  him, 
as  I  have  said,  there  were  two  men — a  man  of  our  time,  full  of 
new  thoughts,  in  love  with  the  arts  and  learning ;  and  another 
of  the  age  that  is  past,  may  be  the  shade  of  old  Verrucchio, 
who  was  never  happy  unless  he  were  fighting — and  in  Sigis- 
mondo's  soul  his  whole  life  long  these  two  fought  for  mastery, 
and  it  was  never  for  long  that  the  former  might  prevail. 

Therefore,  winter  being  over  and  summer  to  come,  news 
of  war  in  his  ears  and  Sforza  at  his  elbow,  he  and  Domenico 
set  out  with  the  Count,  reinforcing  his  army  with  their 
companies  against  Forlimpopoli  and  Forli. 

And  for  certain  reasons,  which  presently  became  clear 
enough — for  the  Pope  was  already  jealous  of  Sforza's  power, 
and  hated  him  for  his  lordship  of  Ancona,  which  of  right 
belonged  to  the  Holy  See — Sforza  at  anyrate  was  not 
anxious,  once  and  for  all,  to  defeat  the  Ordelaffi,  so  he  en- 
camped a  little  way  off  the  fortress,  and  entered  into  com- 
munication with  those  lords,  who,  bereft  of  every  assistance, 
were  indeed  altogether  at  his  mercy.  And  the  Pope,  hear- 
ing of  it,  and  not  being  able  to  explain  how  Forh  was  not 
taken,  save  by  the  perfidy  of  Sforza  and  Sigismondo,  sent 
Baldassare  da  Offida,  Podesta  of  Bologna,  into  Romagna, 
who,  coming  in  haste,  took  Forlimpopoli.  And  Sforza  for 
this  found  himself  deprived  of  the  command  of  the  March, 
while  at  the  same  time  Sigismondo  was  ordered  to  join 


S1GISMONDO   MALATESTA  77 

Offida,  and  everywhere  there  were  rumours  of  peace  be- 
tween the  Pope  and  the  Duke  of  Milan. 

Now,  when  Sigismondo  heard  that  Sforza  was  in  dis- 
grace, knowing  that  man,  and  desiring  rather  to  stand  well 
than  ill  with  him,  he  sent  him  word  that  Offida  plotted 
against  his  life,  and  presently  joined  him.  At  the  same 
time,  the  fame  of  the  Count  being  so  great — for  indeed 
every  man  who  called  himself  a  soldier  loved  him — Offida 
was  given  up  to  him  by  his  army.  And  the  Count  took 
him  prisoner  to  his  nest  of  Cotignola,  where  he  was  tried, 
in  what  fashion  I  know  not,  and  it  matters  little,  since  he 
was  accused  of  having  more  than  once  attempted  Sforza's 
life.  Being  found  guilty  he  was  imprisoned,  and  not  long 
afterwards  put  to  death.  And,  as  we  heard,  the  Florentines 
and  the  Venetians  were  not  displeased  at  this,  for  indeed 
there  was  none  but  Sforza  who  was  a  match  for  Piccinino, 
but  the  Pope  feared  more  than  before  that  he  would  never 
recover  the  March  of  Ancona. 

At  this  time,  and  for  long  after,  these  two  men  stood  as 
the  champions  of  my  distracted  country.  Her  champions ! 
who,  having  wreaked  their  lust  upon  her,  strove  with 
one  another,  tearing  her  in  pieces,  in  which  encounter  she 
who  suffered  was  Italy.  Great  soldiers  though  they  were, 
and  one  of  them  a  statesman,  it  were  difficult  to  find  two 
men  more  different.  For  while  Sforza  was  tall,  head  and 
shoulders  over  his  men,  strong,  lean,  and  tireless,  brave  as  a 
lion  seeking  food,  full  of  resource,  wary,  and  inflexible  of 
purpose,  and  indeed,  if  once  he  set  his  teeth  in  anything, 
be  it  a  city  or  a  lordship,  he  never  let  it  go  till  it  was  his, 
the  which  happened  both  with  the  March  of  Ancona  and 
the  Duchy  of  Milan,  to  say  nothing  of  that  fair  bastard, 
Madonna  Bianca,  daughter  of  the  Duke,  whom  any  man  but 
Sforza  would  have  lost  twice  over;  Piccinino  was  small, 
and  a  cripple,  easily  tired,  for  riding  distressed  him,  and  he 


78  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

could  not  walk,  a  stutterer  in  speech,  without  any  splendour, 
yet  his  men  loved  and  followed  him  as  well  as  the  Sfor- 
zeschi  followed  Sforza.  He  was  daring  too,  and  brave  to 
foolishness,  which  Sforza  never  was,  nor  had  he  the  purpose 
of  the  Count.  And  so,  while  Sforza  from  a  peasant  came  to 
be  Duke  of  Milan,  and  his  sons  ruled  after  him,  Piccinino 
at  last  ruled  nothing  but  a  few  feet  of  earth  and  the  worms, 
that  found  him  tough  enough,  be  sure,  as  his  enemies  had 
ever  done.  How  strange  a  contrast  they  make,  these  two 
soldiers,  who  must  often  have  held  the  destiny  of  Italy  in 
their  hands,  but  they  knew  it  not;  for  in  this  alone  they 
were  alike,  that  they  thought  only  of  themselves  and  their 
own  glory,  and  never  of  Italy. 

Now,  while  things  stood  thus  in  Romagna  and  La  Marca, 
the  Genoese  expelled  the  Duke's  governor  from  their  city, 
and,  as  I  have  said,  joined  themselves  to  the  League  of 
Florence,  Venice,  and  the  Pope.  And  the  Duke,  angered 
at  this,  sent  Piccinino  towards  Genoa  with  all  his  horse  and 
as  much  infantry  as  he  could  raise,  thinking  to  take  that 
city,  but  he  was  not  fortunate.  Therefore  the  Duke  ordered 
him  to  return  towards  Tuscany,  being  persuaded  to  attack 
Florence  by  the  exiles,  the  chief  of  whom  was  Rinaldo  degli 
Albizzi,  who  hoped  thus  to  gain  that  city.  On  the  way 
towards  Pisa  Piccinino  took  Serezana  and  ravaged  the 
country,  and,  to  annoy  the  Florentines  further,  he  proceeded 
to  Lucca,  giving  it  out  that  he  was  about  to  go  to  Naples 
to  aid  the  King  of  Aragon.  It  was  at  this  moment  that  the 
Pope  drew  near  to  the  Duke,  and  suggested  a  treaty,  but 
the  Duke  would  consent  to  nothing  unless  it  gave  him 
Genoa  again,  while  the  League  had  determined  that  Genoa 
should  remain  free,  so  it  became  necessary  to  prosecute  the 
war.  The  Florentines  therefore  sent  Neri  di  Gino,  their 
captain,  with  forces  into  the  country  about  Pisa,  at  the 
same  time  asking  the  Pope  to  send  Count  Francesco  Sforza 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  79 

to  help  them,  and  the  Pope  consenting,  at  a  great  price, 
the  Florentines  sent  him  also  against  Piccinino ;  yet  they 
bade  him  go  slowly,  for  there  was  still  a  chance  of  the 
treaty  which  the  Pope  desired.  Nevertheless,  winter  break- 
ing early,  on  the  8th  February  1437  Sforza  fell  upon 
Piccinino  at  Barga,  in  the  hills  near  Lucca,  and  routed  him 
utterly. 

In  this  affair  in  Tuscany,  which  led  to  an  attempt  by  the 
Florentines  to  regain  Lucca,  Sigismondo  had  no  part;  for 
indeed  there  was  enough  to  do  in  Rimini,  since  the  Pope, 
assured  now  of  the  perfidy  of  Sforza,  and,  as  ever,  hating 
him  bitterly,  seemed  to  be  meditating  the  suppression  of  all 
his  vicars  in  the  Romagna,  so  that  not  Sforza,  nor  the 
Marquis  of  Ferrara,  nor  the  Malatesti  would  be  spared  if 
opportunity  offered.  It  was  chiefly  this  which  determined 
Sigismondo,  after  a  winter  spent  in  work  and  thought,  in 
making  designs  and  plans,  to  pull  down  the  old  Gattolo  of 
his  family  and  to  build  in  its  place  the  marvellous  and  im- 
pregnable Rocca  which  was  the  wonder  of  all  Italy.  It  was 
on  the  2oth  March  1437,  not  without  rejoicings,  that  the 
first  stone  was  laid,  the  whole  design  and  contrivance  of  the 
place  being  due  to  him,  as  indeed  the  inscription  bears  wit- 
ness to  this  day : 

Sigismundus  Pandulfus  Malatesta  Pan  F.  Molem 

Hanc,  Ariminensium  Decus,  novam  a  Fundamentis  erexit 

construxitque 

ac  castellum  suo  nomine  Sigismundum  appellari 

censuit  MCCCCXLVI 

It  is  true  he  may  have  received  some  hints  from  Messer 
Matteo  da  Pasti  when  he  was  at  Ferrara  early  in  1436,  or 
even,  as  some  have  thought,  from  Messer  Roberto  Valturio  of 
Rimini,  the  engineer ;  but,  even  so,  the  work  was  indeed  his 
own,  and  took  him  ten  years  to  build,  being  finished  at  last 
in  1446,  when  Messer  Roberto  came  to  us  from  the  Pope's 


80  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

court,  as  did  Messer  Matteo  da  Fasti,  who  struck  a  medal  to 
commemorate  the  end  of  these  labours ;  but  they  came  on 
other  business,  as  I  shall  record,  and  were  housed  in  the 
fortress  some  have  thought  they  raised :  nor  do  I  think  any 
other  than  Sigismondo  could  have  conceived  and  built  so 
fierce  and  strange  a  place. 

For  strange,  terrible,  and  altogether  wonderful  it  was,  as 
all  who  saw  it  bear  witness,  and  some  of  them  were  the  best 
soldiers  of  Italy.  Rising  as  it  did  from  the  very  foundations 
of  the  Gattolo,  it  was  not  far  from  the  Marrechia,  and  Sigis- 
mondo caused  a  canal  to  be  built,  so  that  the  moat,  a  hundred 
feet  wide,  which  was  to  surround  the  fortress,  might  always 
be  filled  with  water;  and  this  moat  on  the  land  side  was  to 
be  guarded  by  a  high  wall.  The  fortress  itself  was  to  con- 
sist of  three  courts — one  towards  the  city,  one  towards  the 
open  country,  and  a  third  in  the  midst  of  these.  That 
towards  the  city  was  to  be  guarded  by  a  wall  fifty  feet  high, 
and  was  entered  by  a  great  gateway,  really  a  tower,  opening 
on  a  drawbridge  across  the  moat,  and  within  the  ground  was 
high ;  and  that  court  towards  the  open  country  was  the  same, 
only  within  the  wall  was  to  be  built  a  narrow  platform,  high 
up,  from  which  one  might  shoot  arrows,  or  use  catapults  even, 
or  bombs  and  fire.  The  third  court,  La  Rocca  itself,  was 
within  and  between  these  two,  flanked  on  all  sides  by  five 
towers,  and  almost  divided  in  twain  by  the  "  Maschio,"  the 
great  central  tower,  huge  and  tremendous,  which  was  the 
citadel.  By  I  know  not  how  many  secret  ways  one  was  to 
be  able  to  escape  or  to  reach  every  part  of  the  Rocca ;  and 
here  too  were  to  be  hiding-places  for  food,  water,  and  arms, 
and  there  to  the  right  of  this  tower  were  to  be  the  apart- 
ments of  Sigismondo,  very  simple  and  yet  beautiful  too,  as  he 
promised  himself,  but  above  all  in  security  from  the  whims 
of  the  Pope,  as  he  said,  laughing  at  me,  who  was  ever 
anxious  on  his  behalf. 


S1GISMONDO   MALATESTA  81 

From  the  whims  of  the  Pope  !  Was  it  really  that  he 
foresaw  all  the  trouble  that  would  come  to  him  from  the 
hatred  of  the  Holy  See,  or  having  once  deceived  it  and  gone 
free,  did  he  dream,  young  as  he  was,  and  certainly  at  this 
time  under  the  influence  of  Francesco  Sforza,  of  founding  a 
dominion  as  old  Verrucchio  and  Carlo  too  had  done,  only  not 
with  the  Pope's  leave  but  at  his  expense ;  of  recovering  all 
those  cities  and  castles — with  others  too  may  be,  who 
knows  ? — that  his  family  had  once  ruled  as  lords  ?  And  think- 
ing of  this  and  desiring  it,  had  he  determined  at  least  to  make 
sure  of  Rimini  before  he  placed  the  rest  of  his  dominions  in 
jeopardy?  Certainly  he  thought  the  Pope  plotted  against 
him  and  sought  to  disgrace  him,  and  if  this  were  so  he  was 
not  the  man  to  lose  a  kingdom  lightly  or  to  suffer  the  Pope 
to  forget  what  he  owed  to  the  Malatesti.  Yet  I  for  one, 
and  indeed  I  was  alone  in  this,  was  sorry  to  see  that  old 
Gattolo  in  ruins,  for  there  passed  into  nothing  the  work  of 
Lorenzo  Ghiberti — those  beautiful  frescoes  he  had  painted 
for  Carlo,  with  other  things  too  not  less  precious  to  me  at 
any  rate,  which,  as  I  think,  men  will  one  day  come  to  value 
for  a  certain  remembrance  that  clings  about  them  of  old  and 
lovely  things,  a  sentiment  of  the  past,  which  we  are  so  eager 
to  forget  in  these  times  of  ours,  so  restless  and  so  anxious, 
for  every  splendour,  which  it  seems  are  about  to  call  those 
old  days  barbarous ;  for  in  that  old  castle  of  the  Malatesti 
was  Madonna  Francesca's  room  and  Sigismondo's  childhood, 
and  at  a  blow  they  have  been  hidden  away  for  ever. 

But  such  thoughts  as  these  troubled  not  Sigismondo,  nor 
the  Marchese  Nicolo,  who  came  to  Rimini  about  this  time, 
not  less  anxious  about  his  lordship.  For,  seeing  what 
Sigismondo  had  done,  and  hearing  of  his  plans,  he  urged 
him  to  fortify  Fano  also,  towards  the  sea,  so  that  he  might, 
if  it  were  at  any  time  necessary,  retire  there  also,  and  pro- 
vide himself  with  food  so  long  as  he  wished  by  means  of 


82  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

the  ships  of  Venice.  And  Sigismondo,  finding  his  advice 
good,  set  about  it  within  the  year. 

Since  he  had  pulled  down  the  Gattolo  he  had  been  living 
in  a  house  which  the  family  of  Roelli  had  lent  him  in  the 
Contado  di  S.  Croce,  not  far  from  the  Piazza  del  Foro; 
while  Madonna  Ginevra,  being  with  child,  retired  to  the  con- 
vent of  La  Scolca,  where  the  women  of  the  Malatesti  were 
used  to  make  retreat,  and  no  one  looked  more  anxiously  than 
Sigismondo  for  the  child  that  was  to  be  born.  He  was  in 
Rimini  but  little  after  all  during  that  year,  and  when  he  was 
there  he  was  full  of  business,  for  if  the  plans  for  the  Rocca 
filled  his  leisure,  when  the  Marchese  Nicolo  was  with  him 
he  was  persuaded  to  make  a  treaty  with  the  Malatesti  of 
Pesaro,  and  though  this  came  to  little  enough  it  took  up 
much  of  his  time.  Moreover,  affairs  in  Italy,  which  had 
seemed  to  promise  peace  after  the  failure  of  the  Florentine 
adventure  towards  Lucca,  began  to  frown  again  and  threaten 
universal  war. 

Nevertheless,  it  was  at  this  time,  as  I  think,  that  he 
first  caught  sight  of  Madonna  Isotta,  who  later  ruled  his  life, 
holding  his  soul  in  her  two  hands.  For,  dating  from  the 
time  of  his  first  coming  to  that  house  in  the  Contrada 
di  S.  Croce,  a  passionate  friendship  had  grown  up  for  him, 
and  had  overwhelmed  him  almost  from  the  first  day.  Return- 
ing one  evening  later  than  usual  from  a  day's  hunting,  he  had 
paused  beneath  the  loggia  of  a  great  house  not  far  from  his 
own  at  the  sound  of  a  song,  the  clear,  fresh  notes  slowly 
mounting  in  the  melody  of  some  canzone  of  Petrarch's, 
falling  again  in  a  shower  of  raindrops  it  seemed,  so  limpid, 
so  soft,  was  that  divine  voice.  He  waited  there  in  the 
twilight  till  the  song  was  ended,  and  then  went  on  his  way. 

Not  many  days  later  he  found  her,  a  girl  somewhat  older 
than  himself,  and  certainly  not  beautiful,  as  he  told  himself, 
but  rather  strange,  with  a  certain  dignity,  a  sort  of  coldness 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  83 

about  her,  a  real  intellectual  aloofness,  as  he  found  later, 
very  fascinating,  and  full  of  surprises.  Not  beautiful  cer- 
tainly— how  often  he  told  himself  that ! — yet,  as  it  proved, 
adorned  with  all  beautiful  things — that  strangely  penetrating 
mind  which  was  so  sensitive  to  every  shadow  or  play  of 
light,  that  took  fire  so  easily,  giving  light  rather  than  heat; 
those  hands,  that  seemed  made  to  hush  one  to  sleep  or  to 
lay  flowers  on  the  dead,  as  delicate  as  that,  that  trembled 
when  they  touched  beautiful  things,  and  seemed  to  give 
forth  life,  so  that  when  one  was  sick  or  weary,  or  full  of 
fear  or  anguish,  one  had  but  to  feel  them  to  be  quite  well — 
and  a  touch  of  those  finger-tips  would  suffice.  Her  hair 
too,  that  was  the  colour  of  old  gold,  that  seemed  to  take 
on  the  very  aspect  of  the  day,  and  when  the  sun  shone 
was  like  a  veil  behind  which  someone  was  smiling.  No; 
she  was  not  beautiful — somehow  she  seemed  to  be  too 
strong  for  that — yet  her  body  was  like  a  flower,  that  even 
in  its  sheath  makes  one  aware  of  all  the  beauty  and  loveli- 
ness that  will  one  day  burst  forth  naked  in  the  dew.  In 
spite  of  herself,  or  just  because  of  the  exquisite  vitality  that 
shone  in  her,  one  was  never  able  to  forget  it,  even  in  the 
most  dazzling  clothes  loaded  with  jewels  and  paintings,  nor 
in  a  simple  country  dress  of  green  that  had  lain  long  in  the 
sun. 

Not  beautiful,  he  told  me,  and  all  our  sculptors  and  painters 
have  agreed  with  him,  with  his  first  thought  of  her.  Yet 
soon  he  spent  all  his  days  with  her,  and  found  himself  talking 
of  the  Rocca  and  his  wars,  of  this  plan  or  of  that,  holding  her 
gold  and  crimson  work  or  caring  for  her  musical  instruments, 
so  that  he  won,  as  I  think,  from  the  mere  handling  of  them 
something  of  the  delicacy  and  refinement  inherent  in  such 
things,  in  all  things  as  I  have  thought  belonging  to  women ; 
just  as  he  had  gathered  something  of  his  fierceness,  his  decision 
from  his  swords,  that  were  continually  naked  in  his  hands,  that 


84  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

he  played  with  so  constantly,  the  beautiful  stealthy  daggers 
of  Verrucchio,  the  lean  and  shining  irons  of  his  father.  Gradu- 
ally under  her  influence  his  restlessness,  a  kind  of  agritudo  or 
impatience,  passed  away,  as  his  naive  country  roughness  had 
done  under  the  influence  of  the  ways  of  that  great  Florentine 
house,  so  that  he  seemed  to  become  assured  of  himself.  It  was 
as  though  already  she  had  placed  her  cool  hands  on  his  head 
throbbing  with  youth,  as  happened  so  often  later  when  it 
ached  with  remorse  and  the  bitter  agony  of  defeat,  soothing 
him  and  assuring  him  of  something,  I  know  not  what,  which 
is  not  in  the  world  at  all  or  is  there  in  no  satisfying  quantity. 
Was  it  love,  he  asked  himself  in  those  days,  when  the  mere 
delight  of  her  presence,  just  to  sit  and  talk  and  talk  with  her, 
or  if  he  dared,  to  be  silent,  was  enough — was  it  love  that 
possessed  him  ?  It  was  with  this  question  he  came  to  me  one 
evening  ;  how  to  resolve  it  ?  Was  it  love,  since  he  only  wished 
always  to  be  with  her,  to  hear  her  voice,  and  to  be  silent  ? 
Could  it  be  love,  since  he  desired  her  scarcely  at  all,  was  not 
tortured  by  that  longing  to  hold  her  in  his  arms,  to  possess  her 
altogether,  body  devouring  body,  at  least  when  he  was  with 
her,  though  in  her  absence  sometimes  he  thought — yes  he 
had  enjoyed  her  in  his  heart.  But  all  such  questions  were 
perforce  put  aside  by  affairs  in  Italy  which,  threatening  so 
long,  had  at  last  burst  into  war.  The  trumpets  called  enticingly 
down  the  long  valleys ;  the  banners  of  Sforza  were  already 
streaming  over  the  plain ;  day  by  day  one  might  hear  the  men 
singing  on  their  way  to  the  mountains ;  far  away  in  the  silent 
summer  morning  you  might  catch  the  flash  of  a  lifted  sword 
or  the  glint  of  armour  as  men  hurried  northward  and  west : 
the  day  of  battle  was  at  cock-crow,  and  almost  before  we 
realised  it  the  message  had  come,  and  Sigismondo  entered 
the  service  of  Venice. 


VIII 

FOR  the  Duke  of  Milan  was  by  no  means  content  with  the 
turn  affairs  had  taken  after  the  peace  he  had  made  with  the 
Pope ;  daily  he  saw  the  armies  of  Venice  in  Brescia  and  in 
Bergamo  ready  for  war,  and  thinking  to  regain  part  or  all  of 
what  he  had  lost,  and  seeing  the  resentment  of  the  Floren- 
tines against  Venice  on  account  of  the  affair  of  Lucca,  knowing 
also  the  impotence  of  the  Pope,  and  remembering  what  Sforza 
hoped  from  him,  he  thought  it  would  not  be  difficult  to  induce 
these  powers  to  abandon  the  Republic,  so  that  he  might  deal 
with  her  alone ;  and  in  order  to  accomplish  his  desire  he  re- 
solved to  take  Romagna  from  the  Pope,  who,  as  he  thought, 
could  not  injure  him,  while  the  Florentines  seeing  war  so  near 
their  territories  would  prefer  to  remain  quiet.  To  aid  him  in 
his  design  he  ordered  Piccinino,  who  was  then  in  Romagna,  to 
give  out  that  he  was  enraged  at  the  new  friendship  between 
the  Duke  his  master  and  friend,  and  Sforza  his  enemy,  and 
later  (still  following  the  Duke's  instructions)  to  deceive  the 
Pope  with  promises,  that,  since  Sforza  had  gone  over  to  the 
Duke,  and  he,  Piccinino,  was  the  only  general  in  Italy  who 
could  meet  him,  he  would  attack  that  part  of  the  March  held 
by  the  Count,  so  that  he  would  be  forced  to  look  to  his  own 
interests  rather  than  those  of  Milan.  And  the  Pope,  being 
deceived,  sent  him  five  thousand  ducats  and  many  promises. 
And  in  this  way  Piccinino  took  possession  of  Ravenna, 
Bologna,  Imola,  and  Forll,  with  many  fortresses.  Then, 
turning  on  the  Pope,  he  laughed  at  him,  saying  he  who 
had  tried  to  divide  two  such  friends  as  the  Duke  and  himself 
had  got  what  he  deserved.  Leaving  Romagna  to  his  son 

85 


86  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

Francesco,  Piccinino  then  went  with  greater  part  of  his 
force  into  Lombard  y,  and  began  to  besiege  Brescia.  But  the 
Duke  excused  himself  to  the  Pope,  the  Florentines,  and  to 
Sforza,  saying  that  this  piracy  was  as  contrary  to  his  wishes  as 
to  theirs,  and  so  they  should  see  when  opportunity  offered ; 
but  they  believed  him  not.  Yet  Sforza,  though  the  Floren- 
tines besought  him  to  march  against  the  Duke,  still  waited, 
hoping  for  the  Duke's  alliance,  and  Bianca,  his  daughter,  who 
had  so  long  been  promised  to  him.  And  the  Duke  knowing 
this,  sent  him  the  thirty  thousand  florins  named  in  the  mar- 
riage contract.  All  this  time  the  war  proceeded  in  Lombardy, 
the  Venetians  being  continually  defeated,  and  Verona  as  well 
as  Brescia  so  hard  pressed  that  every  day  their  surrender  was 
expected. 

It  was  at  this  time  then  that  Sigismondo,  not  without  the 
Pope's  leave,  entered  the  service  of  Venice.  He  left  Rimini 
on  the  27th  of  July;  and  it  was  Saturday.  All  the  city 
assembled  to  see  him  depart,  with  a  goodly  company  of  horse 
and  foot,  to  meet  one  of  the  greatest  generals  in  Italy.1  As 
we  heard,  he  came  to  the  Venetian  camp  in  safety,  and  finding 
there  other  captains,  with  his  own  troops  and  theirs,  he  met 
Piccinino  on  the  2oth  September  at  Reggio,  on  which  day, 
after  a  long  and  doubtful  encounter,  through  no  fault  of  his 
(and  indeed  he  fought  so  bravely,  that  if  the  conduct  of  a 
single  man  might  have  turned  the  battle  he  would  have  been 
victorious),  the  Venetians  were  defeated,  losing  all  their 
waggons  and  bombarde.  And  throughout  Italy  it  was  thought 
a  marvellous  thing  that  in  the  midst  of  this  disaster,  the  first 

1  Gaspare  Broglio,  in  his  unpublished  life  of  Sigismondo,  says  that  he  had 
seen  a  Catalogo  of  the  famous  Captains  of  Italy,  in  which  the  first  place  was 
given  to  Carmagnuola,  the  second  to  Francesco  Sforza,  called  the  son  of 
Fortune,  the  third  to  Sigismondo  Pandolfo,  the  fourth  to  Federigo  of  Urbino, 
and  the  fifth  to  Nicolo  Piccinino.  See  also  Clementini,  "  Raccolto  Istorico 
della  Fondatione  di  Rimini  e  dell'origine  e  vite  dei  Malatesti,"  vol.  ii. 
page  473- 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  87 

honour  of  the  day  belonged  to  Sigismondo,  a  young  man, 
scarcely  twenty  years  old. 

With    us    in   Rimini    that  year,  which    had    begun    so  / 
tranquilly,  went  still  more  happily  to  its  close ;  for  on  the 
2Qth  September  our  Madonna  Ginevra  gave  birth  to  a  son,^ 
and  on  this  account  Messer  Mazzancelli  di  Terni  gave  ^festa 
in  the  palace  of  the  Podesta,  and  throughout  the  city  there 
were  tournaments,  triumphs,  and  bonfires,  the  people  gladly 
shutting    their    shops   for  three  days,   and   dancing  in   the 
streets. 

Thus  winter  found  us  rejoicing,  looking  for  the  return  of 
Sigismondo.  He  came  at  last  in  the  new  year,  and  for  his 
coming  needs  must  we  repeat  those  tournaments  and  triumphs 
which  we  had  enjoyed  in  September,  so  that  he  might  see 
them,  and  that  we  might  welcome  him  in  the  Piazza  del 
Foroy,  as  his  fame  deserved.  Thither  came  all  the  city  and 
many  strangers,  and  among  the  rest,  though  certainly  no 
stranger,  was  Madonna  Isotta,  with  her  father,  Messer  Fran- 
cesco degli  Atti,  who,  as  I  heard,  had  been  both  proud  and 
uneasy  to  see  his  daughter  so  deep  in  the  favour  of  his  lord. 
I  remember  wrell  how  I  watched  her  all  through  the  noise  and 
jousting  of  those  knights  richly  armed  and  divided  in  order 
under  six  banners;  nor  in  spite  of  the  splendour  of  the 
spectacle  was  I  alone  in  this,  for  there  was  something  strange 
in  her  beauty,  something  that  troubled  one;  and  that  day 
certainly,  in  her  green  dress  embroidered  with  gold,  many 
looked  her  way,  though  not  all  kindly  or  worthily,  as  I  know ; 
but  Sigismondo  made  no  sign. 

But  our  festa  was  to  end,  as  it  happened,  in  a  funeral,  for 
on  the  1 7th  January  news  reached  us  of  the  death  of  the 
Emperor;  and  Sigismondo,  remembering  his  knighthood  and 
his  name  too,  had  a  solemn  office  sung  in  S.  Francesco,  with 
all  the  trappings  of  a  funeral,  and  a  huge  catafalque  carried 
in  procession  and  set  in  the  midst  of  the  church.  Then,  as 


88  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

sunshine  follows  rain,  as  rain  had  followed  sunshine,  on  the 
2nd  February,  which  is  dedicated  to  the  Purification  of  that 
Glorious  One  ever  Virgin,  Galeotto  Roberto,  Sigismondo's  only 
son,  was  christened,  with  much  pomp,  in  S.  Giovanni  Battista, 
and  named  after  il  Beato  by  Fra  Bartolomeo  da  Cesena,  general 
of  the  Eremitani  di  Scolca ;  while  I,  by  the  great  kindness  of 
Sigismondo  and  by  the  good  will  of  Madonna  Ginevra,  held 
him  at  the  font — too  great  an  honour  for  me,  old  pagan  that  I 
am,  though  indeed  there  is  left  for  those  who  may  discern  it 
paganism  enough  in  our  Catholic  religion,  as  Pico,  with  that 
inscrutable  smile  of  his,  that  sought  to  reconcile  Plato  with 
Moses,  hath  often  shown  me.  But  ah  !  shall  I  ever  forget  that 
day  or  my  joy  when  he  who,  as  I  often  told  myself,  might 
one  day  rule  Italy,  stirred  in  my  arms,  and,  opening  his  eyes, 
clutched  at  the  sunshine  with  his  little  hands  as  though  it 
were  the  crown  he  desired  ?  How  softly  he  lay  in  my  arms, 
under  my  thoughts,  which  on  that  day  at  any  rate  built  up 
for  him  glory  and  power  that,  alas !  were  never  to  come  to 
anything. 

There  were  other  things  too  which  befell  that  spring, 
when  all  the  world  seemed  made  of  pale  gold  and  ivory,  while 
here  the  tender,  vivid  green  of  the  corn,  mixed  with  poppies, 
cried  out  shrill,  as  the  voices  of  girls  interrupted  by  the 
laughter  of  children ;  and  there  the  sea,  blue  and  joyful  in 
the  sun,  shouted  at  heaven  like  a  young  man,  and  the  sky, 
like  a  budding  maiden,  seemed  shy  and  yet  pleased  at  his 
noisiness  and  very  far  away.  Was  there  magic  in  the  air, 
some  presence,  god  or  devil  I  know  not,  that,  returning  with 
spring  from  a  country  less  harsh,  had  happened  on  our  shores, 
and,  liking  the  field  and  the  woods  and  the  little  hills  far  back 
from  the  sea,  had  taken  up  his  abode  with  us  and  set  us 
singing  ?  If  it  were  not  so,  how  may  I  explain  the  love-songs 
that  filled  the  city,  that  at  dawn  came  over  the  port  and  the 
sea  from  the  fishing  boats,  and  at  noon  rose  languidly  from 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  89 

the  shadow  of  a  church  or  the  coolness  beside  a  fountain, 
and  at  evening  filled  the  woods  and  gardens  with  a  mysterious 
sweetness  ?  Who  had  set  all  the  poets  singing  her  praises, 
and  among  them  Sigismondo  too  ?  For  one  morning,  turning 
the  pages  of  the  old  great  Petrarch  that  Carlo  Malatesta  had 
won  in  battle,  there  fluttered  from  among  the  pages  a  little 
manuscript  in  Sigismondo's  writing,  and  amid  all  the  blots, 
scratches,  emendations,  and  ineffectual  beginnings  and  endings 
of  what  was  evidently  a  rough  sketch  for  a  sonnet,  I  found 
these  verses : 

AD   ISOTTAMi 

O  vaga  e  dolce  luce,  anima  altera ! 
Creatura  gentile,  o  viso  degno 
O  lume  chiaro  angelico  e  benegno  ! 
In  cui  sola  virtti  mia  mente  spera. 
Tu  sei  de  mia  salute  alta  e  primera 
Anchora  che  viver  mio  fermo  sostegno 
Turture  pure  Candida  e  sincera. 
Dinanzi  a  te  1'erbetta  e  i  fior  s'inchina 
Vaghi  d'esser  premi  dal  dolce  pede 
E  commossi  del  tuo  ceruleo  manto. 
El  sol  quando  se  leva  lo  matina 
Se  vanegloria  e  poi  quando  te  vede 
Sconfito  e  smorto  se  ne  va  con  pianto. 

1  Literally :  <*t 

O  lovely  and  sweet  light,  O  proud  heart ! 
Gentle  soul,  O  worthy  countenance  ! 
O  light,  clear,  angelic  and  benign  ! 
In  whom  alone  my  mind  hopes  for  saving  grace ! 
Thou  art  the  strong  and  first  anchor 
Of  my  salvation,  as  of  my  life 
Thou  art  the  firm  support. 
O  pure,  fair  and  true  dove ! 
Before  thee  bow  the  grass  and  the  flowers, 
Glad  to  be  pressed  by  thy  soft  foot 
And  moved  by  thy  skyey  mantle. 
The  sun  when  he  rises  in  the  morning  is  vainglorious, 
Then  when  he  sees  thee,  defeated  and  pale,  he  sinks  in  tears. 


90  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

Sometimes  in  the  garden  among  the  roses,  whither  the 
wind  had  carried  them  perhaps  from  the  loggia  whence  one 
might  see  the  sea,  sometimes  in  the  red  room — that  room 
painted  in  flame  colour  that  he  loved  best — among  the  bowls 
of  rose  leaves  and  the  old  swords,  I  came  upon  others,  and  hid 
them  away,  partly  because  I  found  them  too  naive  and  moving, 
not  sufficiently  clothed  with  beauty,  so  that  his  longing  and 
desire  seemed  almost  grotesque,  and  partly  from  a  scruple 
lest  Madonna  Ginevra  might  come  upon  them,  and,  as  woman 
will,  be  sorry  therefore.  And  then,  perhaps  to  show  me  how 
vain  were  all  my  efforts,  in  his  behalf,  at  that  time  as  always, 
one  day  as  I  came  through  the  city  in  the  twilight  I  heard 
a  new  song  set  to  one  of  those  strange  tunes,  half  chant, 
half  mere  endless  melody,  that  rose  and  fell  with  the  words, 
and  lent  them  I  know  not  what  passionate  life  and  intensity, 
something  at  any  rate  that  I  for  one  never  found  in  the  words 
themselves.  In  a  few  days  all  the  city  was  singing  the  verses, 
"  Ad  Divam  Isottam  "  as  they  were  called,  and  none  who  sung 
them  but  knew  then  of  Sigismondo's  love  for  Madonna  Isotta 
degli  Atti. 

Now,  though  the  poem  is  well  enough,  it  hath  many 
blemishes,  but,  remembering  things  which  happened  later, 
before  I  have  done  I  shall  write  it  out  in  extenso,  not  so 
much,  as  I  have  said,  for  its  delight,  though  the  verses  show  a 
pretty  fancy,  a  honey-sweet  tongue,  a  heart  of  fire  and  a  young 
man  in  love,  but  because  of  something  that  I  must  tell  of 
later,  to  which  these  verses  invoking  gods  and  men,  heaven 
and  earth,  all  lovers  and  the  stars,  are  as  it  were  the  key. 
And  though  Messer  Angelo  Poliziano  may  cry  "  Pish ! " 
and  demonstrate  in  three  languages  that  Sigismondo  was  no 
poet;  who  hath  sung  his  "  Canzonette,"  sweet  though  they 
be,  and  especially  "  La  Brunettina  mia "  and  "  Che  sara 
della  mia  vita,"  in  the  streets  of  Florence  ?  But  Sigismondo 
filled  the  mouths  of  Rimini  with  his  cc  Senza  sperar  di  Salute 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  91 

conforto,"  and  "  Amor  crudele  in  terra  mi  dispore,"  and  the 
like ;  thus  if  it  come  to  voting  the  better  poet  is  like  to  get 
the  worse  of  it. 

For  the  song  itself,  or  prayer,  or  invocation,  that  all 
Rimini  knew  by  heart,  God  knows  it  sounded  strange  and 
eager  enough,  sung  in  those  old,  narrow  streets  in  the  nights 
of  spring  long  and  long  ago,  and  yet  .  .  . 

It  begins,  as  is  right,  with  the  name  of  Domeniddio. 

"  Succurime  per  Dio  chio  son  a  mal  porto  ..." 

And  such ;  falls  through  the  seven  heavens  to  Madonna  Isotta 

"  O  Voi  che  sete  d'angelica  setta  ..." 

the  seven  planets  and  the  moon,  and,  passing  through  the 
twelve  signs  of  the  Zodiac,  touches  earth,  and  first  the  birds 
the  skyest  things  therein 

"  O  Vaghi  Ocelli  che  andati  a  volo  ..." 

and  the  spring  with  its  roses,  and  Isotta  the  Rose,  and  Love 
and  King  Salomone,  and  they  who  taught  him  his  melancholy 
wisdom.  Then  follows  Prince  Jacobbe  and  Madonna  Rachel, 
King  David  and  his  Betzaba,  Samson  and  the  Philistine 
Princess.  Mounting  again,  we  have  King  Priamo  and  Tisbe, 
and  She  who  burnt  Troy,  Madonna  Dido  and  Eneas  our 
Prince,  and  a  garland  of  gods  half  mortal :  Narcissus,  Leander, 
and  what  not,  Medea,  Jason,  Theseus  the  King,  and  Arianna 
forlorn,  Fedra  and  Ippolito,  and  such.  Then  cometh  Tristan, 
who  loved  Isotta,  ohim^9  but  not  ours  of  Italy ;  Petrarcha  and 
Madonna  Laura,  martyrs  of  Amor ;  and  after  them  all  those 
who  make  music  with  the  voice,  harps,  bells,  citers,  flutes  and 
trumpets ;  and  all  these  separately  in  themselves,  together  in 
a  motley  company,  gods  and  men,  mortal  and  immortal,  dead 
or  living,  he  praises  and  invokes,  that  they  may  aid  him  with 
his  love  Isotta,  that  Rose  born  in  the  spring,  so  that  kind  and 


92  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

generous,  she  may  come  to  him  naked  into  his  arms,  and  he 
not  die,  but  live. 

So  sang  Sigismondo,  and  all  Rimini  with  him;  while 
Madonna  Ginevra  went  silently,  even  demurely,  on  her  way, 
and  was,  so  far  as  we  might  know,  as  happy  as  could  be 
with  her  little  son.  And  the  summer  passed  away;  while 
Sigismondo,  sometimes  in  Tuscany  righting  King  Alfonso 
and  Federigo  of  Urbino,  who  would  have  helped  the  Duke, 
later  in  Lombardy  warring  with  Piccinino,  returned  from 
time  to  time  to  Rimini,  which,  for  the  most  part,  was  left  in 
peace  while  that  mad  war  surged  over  Italy,  throwing  down 
to-day  what  it  set  up  to-morrow,  accomplishing  nothing, 
waged,  as  I  have  often  thought,  neither  in  the  cause  of  the 
League  nor  in  that  of  the  Duke,  but  for  the  pleasure  and 
glory  and  gain  of  Sforza,  Piccinino,  and  Vitelleschi,  seeking 
lordships ;  while  between  them,  between  two  of  them  at  any 
rate,  letters  passed,  as  was  proved  by  the  Florentines  later, 
who  thus  brought  Vitelleschi  to  his  death  in  S.  Angelo,  so 
that  the  war  after  all  was  but  a  kind  of  sport  or  game,  in 
which  those  who  might  gain  were  these  captains,  and  those 
who  must  lose  the  citizens  of  this  beautiful,  unhappy,  dis- 
tracted country. 

Often  when  I  have  seen  Sigismondo  ride  out  at  the  head 
of  his  troops,  a  beautiful  and  yet  sinister  figure,  swift  as  a 
bird  of  prey,  his  lean  hawk  face,  so  clear  cut,  so  hard  and 
cruel  even ;  his  small  blue  eyes  keen  and  piercing,  half  closed 
as  was  his  manner  when  in  thought ;  his  long  hair,  between 
gold  and  red,  falling  just  over  the  steel  of  his  cuirass — I  have 
wondered  if  in  his  heart  he  knew  the  uselessness  of  the 
game  he  was  engaged  in,  the  mere  stupidity  of  these  quarrels 
in  which  he  served,  wars  that  to  satiate  the  ambition  of 
a  few  men  were  gradually  destroying  our  country,  under- 
mining its  morality,  as  one  might  think,  destroying  its 
patriotism,  its  sense  of  unity.  Was  it  that  his  restlessness, 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  93 

his  energy  forced  him  to  engage  in  these  adventures;  or, 
thinking  to  save  his  dominions,  was  he  anxious  to  serve  the 
Pope,  the  Venetians,  or  indeed  any  powerful  and  rich  state 
of  whose  help  he  might  one  day  stand  in  need  ?  He  was 
inscrutable,  cunning,  and  full  of  eloquence,  that  served  to 
mask  his  silent  thought.  I  know  not  why  he  fought;  yet 
he  was  too  intelligent  and  too  wise  not  to  know  that  in  his 
need  the  first  to  sacrifice  him  to  their  convenience  would  be 
those  powers  whom  he  served.  Did  he  too  think  to  grasp 
a  lordship,  to  turn  his  dominion  into  a  dukedom,  to  establish 
his  family  among  the  great  lords  ?  Ah !  I  know  not.  He 
was  ever  inscrutable,  impulsive,  avaricious,  and  yet  generous 
too.  He  was  learned  in  every  branch  of  knowledge,  and  of 
great  judgment,  eloquent  in  the  exposition  of  his  thoughts; 
in  war  he  had  a  singular  genius :  I  have  heard  men  compare 
him  at  once  with  Cicero  and  Cassar.  What  then  but  a  love 
of  war,  of  glory,  of  praise,  of  danger,  of  the  exercise  of  his 
genius,  carried  him  into  the  quarrels  of  Milan  or  Naples? 
For  it  was  not  often  he  had  to  defend  his  dominions,  and 
then  it  was  against  Pesaro  or  Urbino  that  he  fought ;  but  he 
had  done  that  better,  often  enough,  had  he  been  rather 
in  Rimini  than  in  Lombardy  or  Tuscany. 

However  it  may  be,  we  in  Rimini  all  through  that  year 
heard  rumours  of  the  war  far  and  far  away;  sometimes  it 
was  a  fleet  of  Venetian  galleys  full  of  soldiers  that  came  into 
the  port ;  then  for  a  day  or  two  the  city  would  ring  with  the 
long-drawn  Venetian  oaths,  and  Cristoforo  or  Giovanni  da 
Tolentino  would  wait  upon  Madonna ;  sometimes  Sigismondo 
himself  would  return,  always  silent,  always  preoccupied,  and 
for  a  day  or  two  the  city  would  be  full  of  his  soldiers  and 
the  stories  of  his  cunning,  his  daring,  his  useless  victories. 
And  always  we  heard  that  it  was  Isotta's  colours  he  wore  in 
the  field,  even  his  company  bore  them  above  his  gonfalon ; 
it  was  to  her  he  sent  his  news,  with  her  he  spent  the  few 


94  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

hours  he  had  in  Rimini ;  her  hand  he  kissed  last  in  farewell. 
Yet  Madonna  Ginevra's  mouth  trembled  not,  only  she  was 
more  silent  than  her  wont,  and  her  laughter  echoed  not  in 
the  house  in  the  Contado  di  S.  Croce  as  it  had  done  in  the 
Gattolo,  and  methought  her  eyes  were  harder,  and  seemed  to 
be  searching  something  out.  Certainly,  if  she  were  very 
sorry,  she  hid  it,  as  became  one  of  her  house ;  yet  it  may 
have  been  on  this  account  that  for  the  most  part  she  had 
preferred  to  remain  at  Villa  di  Scolca  in  retreat  with  her 
son,  for  indeed  the  summer  was  fresher  there  than  in 
Rimini  itself. 

However  this  may  be,  I  know  not  well,  for  before  the 
summer  ended  Sigismondo  sent  me  to  Ferrara  to  the  Court 
of  the  Marchese  d'Este,  who,  as  we  heard,  was,  at  the 
earnest  persuasion  of  Venice  and  the  Pope,  about  to  enter 
the  League  against  Milan.  In  that  fair  city  among  the  trees 
some  new  sort  of  delight  came  to  me  in  the  company  of 
many  old  friends,  and  some  new  ones  too,  for  the  Greeks 
were  gathered  there  to  meet  the  Pope.  So  in  the  com- 
pany of  Bessarion,  who  spoke  with  much  melancholy — a 
new  thing  for  him — of  the  future,  beside  the  fountains  in 
the  gardens  or  under  the  cypresses,  or  wandering  in  the 
long  corridors  of  the  palace,  I  began  to  read  Plato  again, 
after  many  years,  and  talked  of  him  with  the  greatest  delight 
with  the  Marchese,  while  the  Churchmen  discussed  (with 
no  less  delight)  the  reality  of  purgatorial  fire  or  the  pro- 
cession of  the  Holy  Ghost.  Every  day,  much  to  the  annoy- 
ance of  the  Marchese,  the  Greek  Emperor  hunted  in  the 
woods  round  about — you  might  hear  his  horns  from  daylight 
to  dusk ;  while  the  whole  city  was  like  a  fair,  for  the  Council 
brought  together  not  only  those  whose  treasure  was  in 
heaven,  but  those  also  who  held  our  earth  not  altogether 
unworthy  of  praise,  so  that  amid  the  crowd  of  soldiers, 
mountebanks,  poets,  lutanists,  scholars,  light  women,  and 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  95 

I  such,  the  Churchmen  were  like  to  be  lost ;  and  often  enough 
one  mistook  a  mountebank,  with  his  melancholy,  watchful 
jface,  for  some  half-starved  hermit,  and  a  gay  secretary  in 
j  Orders  for  a  poet  at  least,  which  sometimes  he  was,  or  a 
mountebank,  which  methinks  he  might  have  found  it  hard 
to  disprove  that  he  might  be.  Then  at  last  the  plague  fell 
j  upon  us,  and  for  this,  as  I  have  heard,  the  Marchese  thanked 
'Madonna  dei  Greci,  and  sent  her  a  jewel  too,  for  it  cleared 
his  city  of  our  Latins,  and  for  the  moment  broke  up  the 
Council.  Ah !  I  little  thought,  when  I  saw  the  Bishops 
fleeing  hither  and  thither,  and  laughed  to  myself  therefore, 
that,  almost  before  they  could  assemble  again  in  Ferrara,  I 
should  myself  be  in  tears  hurrying  to  Rimini.  Yet  so  it 
was.  For  a  messenger  reached  me  on  the  i6th  November, 
from  Madonna  Ginevra,  towards  evening,  bidding  me  come 
to  her  with  all  speed,  for  Galeotto  Roberto  lay  sick,  and 
Sigismondo  was  far  away.  Before  nightfall  I  had  bidden 
the  Marchese  farewell,  and  was  on  my  way.  I  cannot  speak 
of  the  agony  of  that  journey  in  the  rain,  and  the  night,  the 
grey  dawn,  the  misery  of  the  day,  the  incredible  slowness  of 
our  horses  along  that  winter  road,  flooded  in  places,  and 
lalmost  impassable.  It  was  past  midnight  on  the  I7th  when 
we  came  in  sight  of  Villa  di  Scolca  and  the  house  of  the 
iBishop.  After  a  moment,  for  inspection  by  the  guard,  we 
swere  admitted,  and  I,  rushing  blindly  on,  came  at  last  to  the 
igreat  room  of  Madonna,  to  find  her  on  her  knees  weeping, 
the  body  of  her  little  son  in  her  arms.  What  could  I  do 
ibut  weep  too,  not  for  myself,  but  for  her,  left  so  lonely 
jlbeside  that  little  dead  body. 

Some  days  later,  Sigismondo  returning,  we  laid  Galeotto 
jRoberto  to  rest  in  S.  Francesco,  with  ceremonies  and 
imany  tears. 


IX 

ALL  that  winter  Sigismondo  remained  in  Rimini,  busy  for 
the  most  part  with  the  Rocca,  which  was  already  more  than 
half  finished;  but  Madonna  Ginevra  stayed  at  La  Scolca, 
sorrowful  for  the  loss  of  her  son.  And  at  that  time  the 
hearts  of  many  were  turned  towards  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ 
by  reason  of  the  Foundation  in  Rimini  of  the  Confraternity 
of  S.  Girolamo,1  in  the  church  of  S.  Giovanni  Battista,  for  the 
Reverend  Lord  and  Father  Messer  Cristoforo  da  Vicenza, 
Bishop  of  our  city,  had  moved  the  people  much  by  his  preach- 
ing, as  did  also  that  good  man  Fra  Bartolomeo  da  Parma, 
and  not  the  people  alone,  for  many  of  the  nobility  spent  their 
days  praying  at  the  tomb  of  il  beato  Galeotto  Roberto,  and 
especially  before  a  crucifix  still  held  precious  by  the  brethren, 
and  a  piece  of  the  true  Cross,  together  with  a  fragment  of 
bone  of  the  eleven  thousand  virgins,  and  many  other  relics; 
but  in  all  this  Sigismondo  took  no  part,  for  he  cared  more  for 
war  than  for  preaching,  and  to  chastise  his  enemies  rather 
than  himself.  And  indeed  at  this  time  he  was  almost 
a  stranger  to  us,  departing  on  the  7th  April  with  his  men 
towards  Pergola,  which  he  took  from  the  Ordelaffi  on  the 
loth,  for  there  had  been  many  revolutions  in  Romagna  and 
the  March  while  Sforza  was  in  Lombardy.  On  the  24th  of 
April  we  heard  that  he  had  occupied  Rocca  Contrada,  and  on 
the  25th  news  came  that  Sforza  was  at  Terzo  in  the 
Riminese  encamped  and  contemplating  a  siege  of  Forlim- 

1  See  the  pamphlet,  "  Alcune  Memorie  Storiche  della  Ven.  Confraternita 
che  e  in  Rimini  col  titolo  di  S.  Girolamo  e  della  SS.  Trinita,"  compilate 
e  sci-itte  dal  confratello  Dott.  Luigi  Tonini  Riminese.  Rimini,  1842. 

96 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  97 

popoli.  Sigismondo  joined  him  with  his  new  invention,  a 
Bronzina,  which,  as  he  said,  carried  an  iron  ball  some  five 
miles,  and  with  the  help  of  this  machine  Forlimpopoli  fell  on 
the  i  oth  of  May.  Then,  as  we  heard,  Sforza  with  our  Lord 
departed  for  Lombardy,  where  they  were  fighting  the  greater 
part  of  the  summer,  till  we  in  Rimini,  growing  uneasy  at  the 
encroachments  of  the  Count  of  Urbino,  sent  him  word,  so 
that  he  returned,  with  the  consent  of  Sforza,  who  was  as 
anxious  as  Sigismondo  that  Urbino  should  gain  no  foothold 
in  that  part.  Now,  as  we  thought,  we  should  have  been  safe 
enough  owing  to  the  new  friendship  of  the  Malatesti  of 
Pesaro  and  the  promised  marriage  of  Novello  with  Violante, 
daughter  of  the  Count  Guidantonio  of  Urbino ;  but  in  truth 
the  Duke  of  Milan  was  ever  striving  to  rouse  troubles  in  the 
States  of  the  Church  for  the  friends  of  the  Pope ;  and  the 
Lords  both  of  Pesaro  and  Urbino  being  enemies  of  Eugenius 
they  seemed  to  him  convenient  to  his  purpose  of  dividing  a 
part  of  the  forces  of  the  League.  But  it  happened  that  of  the 
Lords  of  Pesaro  Carlo,  the  most  enterprising,  the  most 
devoted  to  the  Duke,  had  died  in  1438  and,  on  Pandolfo,  the 
Archbishop,  and  Galeotto,  the  coward,  he  could  not  depend, 
therefore  he  turned  to  the  Count  of  Urbino,  who,  he 
thought,  would  serve  his  purpose.  Almost  before  we  were 
aware,  Count  Guidantonio's  constable,  Balduccio,  had  seized, on 
24th  November  as  we  learned,  the  castle  of  Tavolato,  though 
he  lost  there  Coloccio,  his  best  Condottiere,  and  Paoloccio  and 
Battista  di  Nolfo,  his  bravest  captains,  but,  angry  at  this,  he 
gave  the  town  up  to  be  plundered  by  his  soldiery.  This  news 
reaching  us  in  the  evening,  Sigismondo  left  us  at  dawn  for 
his  revenge,  taking  in  the  course  of  a  few  days  for  that  one 
castle  seven  others  from  the  Feltreschi — to  wit,  Castelnuovo, 
Monfatogono,  Tavizano,  which  he  gave  his  men  for  plunder, 
Pietra  Maura,  Penna  Rossa,  Rontagnano,  and  Savignano  di 
Rigo.  On  the  ist  December  Sigismondo  passed  to  Castelli 


98  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

di  Monticello  with  his  bombarde,  thinking  to  try  these 
weapons  on  the  hide  of  Urbino ;  but  he  was  prevented,  as  it 
>  happened,  for  Astorge  Manfredi  of  Faenza  sent  troops  to  the 
Count's  assistance,  which  Sigismondo  either  killed  or  took 
prisoners,  and  these  he  hanged  before  the  gates  of  the  Castle, 
to  the  great  fear  of  those  who  defended  it,  so  that  on  the 
8th  December  they  surrendered  the  place.  On  the  following 
day  he  took  three  other  castles  from  the  Count ;  but  winter 
setting  in  in  earnest,  he  returned  to  Rimini.  There  no 
pleasant  news  awaited  him,  for  he  learned  that  his  brother 
Novello  Malatesta,  charging  recklessly  in  front  of  his  troops 
in  Lombardy  on  i4th  November,  had  been  taken  prisoner. 
For  this  cause  no  long  time  after  he  set  out  for  Lombardy. 

With  us  the  time  passed  quietly  enough.  We  heard  from 
Ferrara  of  the  Pope's  satisfaction  at  the  reconciliation  of  the 
Greeks  with  the  Church,  though  our  joy  at  this  news  was 
speedily  cooled  when  we  heard  that  at  Basle  the  Fathers 
had  elected  a  new  Anti-pope,  Amadeo  of  Savoy.  But  all 
this  was  forgotten  when  on  the  loth  February  we  heard  by 
letter  from  Sigismondo  that  Signer  Domenico  Malatesta 
Novello  was  free,  that  the  Marchese  of  Mantua  had  ex- 
changed him  for  his  own  son,  who  was  in  Sforza's  hands,  and 
that  both  himself  and  Novello  had  been  re-engaged  by  the 
League. 

For  Duke  Filippo,  seeing  that  so  long  as  Sforza  was  in 
Lombardy  his  danger  daily  grew  worse,  wished  Piccinino,  as 
of  old,  to  carry  the  war  into  Romagna,  and  to  threaten 
Tuscany,  since  he  did  not  doubt  that  with  war  at  his  own 
doors  Count  Francesco  would  be  compelled  to  cross  the  Po, 
so  that  such  places  as  he  held  belonging  to  the  Venetians 
would  remain  to  him,  and  that  even  a  new  cause  of  quarrel 
might  arise  between  the  allied  states. 

Now  all  this  time  Sigismondo,  who  had  returned  quickly 
from  Lombardy,  had  been  gathering  forces  to  oppose  Picci- 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  99 

nino  should  he  venture  southward,  for  the  intention  of  the 
Duke  was  obvious  to  all;  but  on  ist  March,  early  in  the 
morning,  Federigo,  bastard  son  of  Count  Guidantonio  of  \ 
Urbino,  fell  on  our  Castello  di  Rupolo,  which  he  knew  to  be 
ill  guarded,  took  it,  and  gave  it  up  to  plunder.  Sigismondo 
hated  this  man,  because  he  had  passed  himself  off  as 
the  legitimate  son  of  our  Madonna  Rengarda,  first  wife  of 
Guidantonio.  Therefore,  though  Piccinino  was  in  Romagna 
towards  Meldola,  he  prepared  himself  rather  to  meet  Federigo; 
but  before  he  could  march  we  heard,  on  the  one  hand,  that 
Piccinino  had  taken  Todorano  and  several  other  forts,  and 
on  the  other  that  Montibello  had  fallen  into  the  hands  of 
Federigo,  who  had  beaten  Scianchino,  one  of  our  best  cap- 
tains ;  and  later  again  we  heard  that  the  Florentines,  wishing 
to  prevent  the  enemy  entering  Tuscany,  were  sending  Pier 
Giovanni  Orsini  to  our  assistance.  In  like  manner  came 
Baldovino  da  Tolentino  from  the  March,  sent  by  Count 
Francesco ;  nor  were  the  Venetians  without  pity  on  us,  for 
they  sent  us  much  money,  which  they  could  spare  better  than 
men.  All  this  enraged  Sigismondo,  who  thought,  and  rightly, 
that  Tuscany,  for  instance,  was  much  better  able  to  defend 
itself  than  he  was,  and  that  they  were  sending  Orsini  in  the 
hope  of  confining  the  war  to  his  lordship.  Nor  was  the 
Duke  slow  to  see  that  part  of  his  plan  had  succeeded,  in 
that  a  quarrel  was  about  to  arise  between  our  Lords  and  the 
Florentines.  Therefore  he  ordered  Piccinino  to  offer  to 
return  all  our  Castles  if  we  would  become  neutral  in  his 
quarrel;  and  the  Count  of  Urbino  also  offered  us  peace, 
which  Sigismondo  agreed  to  accept,  on  the  28th  March  1440, 
though  before  the  treaty  was  signed  Balduccio  had  seized 
Fossa  and  sacked  it.  Peace  being  then  arranged,  Sigismondo 
set  out  in  haste  for  Fano,  whence  he  had  heard  rumours  of 
the  treachery  of  the  Orsini ;  but,  that  being  arranged,1  he 

1  Cf.  Clementini,  op.  clt.  vol.  ii.  318. 


100  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

went  in  state  to  Urbino  on  i3th  April  to  visit  Count  Guid- 
antonio, who  received  him  most  splendidly. 

Now  Count  Guidantonio  was  at  this  time  a  broken  man, 
for  on  the  the  gth  October  1438  his  wife,  the  Contessa 
Caterina,  who  had  led  him  into  the  camp  of  the  Pope's 
enemies,  had  died,  and  from  that  time  all  his  wars  were 
fought  by  Federigo,  later  to  be  so  famous.  On  the  death 
of  his  wife  the  Count  had  made  pilgrimage  to  Loretto ;  and 
at  the  time  we  came  to  Urbino,  for  I  went  with  Sigismondo, 
he  was  engaged  for  the  most  part  in  pious  works  against  his 
death,  among  them  being  the  building  of  a  Duomo,  which 
he  had  just  begun.  He  was  a  Franciscan  too,  and  wore 
under  his  dress  the  scapular  of  the  Third  Order.  Certainly 
he  received  us  most  splendidly ;  but  his  heart  was  not  in  our 
business,  and  as  he  cared  not  to  discuss  affairs,  and  Sigis- 
mondo was  eager  to  be  back  in  Rimini,  for  in  all  these  wars 
the  work  on  the  Rocca  languished,  we  were  glad  to  depart 
after  four  days. 

Certainly  Sigismondo  was  joyful  beyond  his  wont  at  our 
return,  but  not  I.  In  that  house  in  the  Via  S.  Croce 
Madonna  Ginevra,  as  I  knew,  waited  with  sad  and  tired  eyes, 
flitting  to  and  fro  softly,  and  without  any  of  the  lightness 
that  used  to  distinguish  her.  What  was  she  awaiting  ?  She 
had  lost  her  little  son,  and  even  as  old  Count  Guidantonio 
seemed  to  have  buried  his  heart  with  the  Countess  Caterina, 
so  when  the  light  went  from  Galeotto  Roberto's  eyes  it  died 
too  in  the  heart  of  Madonna  Ginevra.  And,  moreover, 
Sigismondo  wanted  her  not.  He  scarcely  spoke  with  her; 
only  now  and  then  I  would  find  him  looking  at  her  as  she 
read  her  Hours,  or  walked  in  the  garden,  always  a  little  way 
off;  while  I  spoke  with  him  of  the  Rocca,  or  of  his  inven- 
tions, or  of  Plato,  till,  waiting  for  a  reply,  I  found  that  he 
was  thinking  of  other  things. 

Thus  the  spring  passed,  till  June  brought  us  to  Corpus 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  101 

Christi,  and  with  it  a  guest,  Oddantonio  of  Urbino,  the  son 
of  the  Count,  come  to  return  us  our  visit.  For  his  coming, 
to  do  him  honour,  many  jousts,  with  a  tournament,  were 
arranged,  but  indeed  he  found  us  in  a  time  of  Festa.1  For 
to  give  our  thanks  to  God  for  the  peace,  and  to  celebrate 
that  noble  feast  worthily,  a  procession  had  been  arranged, 
with  a  drama,  one  of  those  sacred  plays  that  the  people  are 
never  tired  of,  and  this  being  given  into  my  hands,  I  proposed 
to  myself  a  fine  subject — to  wit,  the  Life  of  our  Lord — and 
determined  it  should  be  given  with  some  magnificence.  So 
I  decided  to  begin  with  the  Annunciation,  and  to  continue 
even  to  the  Ascension.  Then  I  thought  the  old  gods  too 
might  come  into  the  play,  if  only  as  devils  (according  to  the 
popular  superstition)  ;  for  I  have  heard  that  when  Gabriel 
dropped  out  of  the  heavens  at  Madonna's  feet,  softly,  like  a 
snowflake,  on  that  winter  night,  Mercurius  followed  after  him, 
and  listened  while  he  spake,  and  then  fled  away  to  alarm  the 
gods.  Therefore  Mercurius  and  the  rest  were  in  my 
pageant ;  and  all  this  I  did,  much  to  the  delight  of  Sigis- 
mondo ;  but  Madonna  Ginevra  was  not  there. 

It  was  not  for  long,  however,  that  Sigismondo  allowed 
himself  to  stay  in  Rimini,  for  the  peace  with  Piccinino  came 
to  nothing,  and,  seeing  his  lordship  was  like  to  be  in  danger, 
he  persuaded  Novello,  his  brother,  to  join  the  Duke,  while 
he  himself  served  the  League,  so  that  since  they  cared  not 
more  for  one  than  for  the  other,  what  one  lost  the  other 
might  gain  and  repay,  and  thus  Novello  and  himself  lose 
nothing. 

Now  on  the  i7th  August  Sigismondo  went  out  against 
Forlimpopoli,  but  did  not  press  the  siege,  encamping  indeed 
some  two  miles  away  from  the  city,  so  that  Piccinino  and 
Novello,  who  was  now  for  the  Duke,  might  easily  pass  in 
and  out  to  encourage  the  besieged  to  hold  the  place  for 

1  Cf.  Clementini,  op.  cit.  vol.  ii  p.  318. 


102  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

the  Ordelaffi.  Nevertheless,  his  presence  there  with  a  large 
number  of  troops — to  wit,  some  fifteen  hundred  horse  and  five 
hundred  foot — so  moved  the  Podesta  of  Ravenna  that  the  Ducal 
troops  being  driven  out,  they  admitted  into  that  city  a  Venetian 
garrison ;  while  the  Manfredi  too  were  not  less  easily  beaten. 
Thus  things  stood  in  September,  Madonna  Ginevra  being 
at  that  time  once  more  at  Villa  Scolca.  Now  it  happened 
that  I,  being  in  Fano  on  Sigismondo's  affairs,  was  returning 
towards  Rimini  by  night,  for  it  was  very  hot,  not  alone,  but 
with  a  boy  for  servant,  and  two  guards.  And  since  there 
was  no  need  for  haste,  and  it  was  long  since  I  had  seen 
Madonna  Ginevra,  who  kept  herself  close  in  retreat  at  Scolca, 
I  turned  that  way  just  before  dawn.  As  we  passed  over  the 
last  hill — for  the  Villa  lies  in  a  pleasant  valley  among  the 
woods — I  was  riding  a  little  in  front  of  the  guards,  and  my 
boy  was  drowsing  in  his  saddle.  Just  as  the  first  grey  day- 
light cooled  the  world,  though  in  the  wood  it  was  still  very 
dark  and  close,  I  caught  the  sound  of  stirring  leaves  and  the 
quick  breathing  of  a  horse.  Wondering  who  in  this  lonely 
place  could  be  abroad  so  early,  I  drew  rein,  and  followed  by 
the  ronzina,  on  which  my  boy  still  slept,  I  left  the  path  a 
little  to  the  right,  where  the  trees  were  thicker.  I  had 
scarcely  got  thus  out  of  the  way  when  I  saw  a  man  pass  on 
a  weary  horse,  that  he  urged  with  much  violence  up  the  hill. 
At  first,  I  confess,  I  thought  it  was  Sigismondo  himself;  but 
on  calling  his  name  I  got  no  answer,  but  a  quick  stare  from 
a  pair  of  eyes  that  I  think  could  not  have  been  his,  though 
it  was  still  so  dark  I  could  not  see  clearly,  while  his  face  was 
so  wrapped  in  his  cloak  that  one  might  see  no  more  than  the 
eyes.  Seeing  us,  he  left  the  way,  and  soon  passed  out  of 
sight  among  the  trees.  My  drowsy  guards,  coming  up  a  few 
minutes  later,  had  seen  and  heard  nothing  of  him.  I  cannot 
tell  how  it  was — doubtless  the  stars,  that  see  all  things,  were 
accountable — but  I  was  troubled  in  my  mind,  and,  hoping  for 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  103 

some  news,  since  it  was  difficult  to  see  whence  the  rider 
came  if  not  from  La  Scolca,  I  rode  on  with  more  speed, 
coming  to  the  villa  about  five  o'clock.  Rousing  the  porter, 
I  asked  if  any  had  been  there  with  news  from  Rimini ;  but 
he  knew  nothing,  and  indeed  was  but  just  out  of  his  bed. 
Madonna,  they  told  me,  was  sleeping,  and  never  roused 
before  eight.  I  therefore  composed  myself  with  what 
patience  I  could — for  indeed  I  was  restless,  and  could  not  get 
that  figure  in  the  wood  out  of  my  head — when,  just  as  they 
brought  me  breakfast,  I  heard  a  scream,  and  immediately  one 
of  the  maids  ran  into  the  room,  crying  out  that  Madonna  was 
murdered.  Waiting  to  hear  no  more,  I  rushed  up  the  great 
staircase,  and,  guided  by  the  cries  of  the  maids,  I  found  the 
room,  and  Madonna  too,  stretched  out  on  the  bed,  as  white 
as  marble,  dead  to  all  seeming.  And  indeed  it  proved  so,  for 
all  our  efforts  and  tears  availed  nothing.  Then  I  heard  that 
this  maid  or  that  had  had  dreams,  and  this  other  had  heard 
strange  cries,  and  another  again  had  shivered  at  dawn,  and 
such ;  but  none  knew  anything  or  could  tell  a  coherent  tale. 
And  all  the  time  I  was  thinking  of  that  rider  in  the  wood, 
and  later  of  a  tale  I  had  heard  in  Fano  of  Sigismondo  and  a 
certain  lady  Donna  Vannella  di  Galeotto  degli  Toschi,  and 
how  she  had  said  many  times  that  some  witch  had  foretold 
her  she  should  be  Lady  of  Rimini.  Yet  I  know  nothing,1  nor 
was  there  any  sign  of  violence  about  Madonna  Ginevra ;  only 
the  pillow  lay  on  the  floor  beside  the  bed,  and  her  head  was 
on  the  mattress,  the  which  at  the  time  seemed  strange  to 
me,  but  then  the  night  was  hot.  Then  again  they  told  me 
how  she  had  been  ailing  for  long,  but  would  say  nothing; 
and  her  confessor,  a  thin  and  shifty  fellow  I  liked  not,  was 

1  "  I  know  nothing  "-—  in  this  Sanseverino  is  not  alone.  Broglio  knows 
nothing,  nor  does  Clementini  writing  in  1617,  nor  does  Battaglini  writing  in 
the  eighteenth  century.  Pius  II.  charged  Sigismondo  with  this  murder  ;  but, 
as  Sanseverino  says,  he  hated  him  for  his  treachery  to  Siena,  and  his  evidence 
is  really  worthless,  or  nearly  so. 


104  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

of  opinion — and  this  he  said  many  times — that  she  died  of  a 
broken  heart,  having  lost  her  son. 

How  often  in  those  days  I  would  ask  myself  the  question : 
If  Sigismondo  has  done  this  thing,  to  what  end  and  to 
what  purpose  ?  Nevertheless,  Pope  Pius  has  not  scrupled  to 
accuse  him  of  this  murder;  but,  as  I  shall  relate,  .ZEneas 
Sylvius  hated  him  for  another  reason — being  a  Sienese. 
The  best  proof  that  he  was  innocent  of  this  foul  deed  is 
that  he  gained  nothing  by  it,  and  used  it  to  no  purpose,  and 
again  that  Nicolo  d'Este,  an  honourable  and  great  lord,  re- 
mained his  friend,  which  certainly  he  would  not  have  done  had 
he  thought  Sigismondo  guilty  of  the  murder  of  his  daughter. 
And  those  who  say  otherwise  know  not  Marchese  Nicolo.1 

But  of  the  rider  in  the  wood  I  know  nothing ;  and  when, 
speaking  later  of  this  to  Sigismondo,  I  told  him  of  that 
strange  meeting  he  looked  me  in  the  eyes  curiously,  and 
presently,  "Pish,  my  man,"  says  he;  "never  make  journey 
just  before  dawn  in  the  careless  end  of  the  night,  for  the 
stars,  as  you  know,  at  that  hour  begin  to  fail,  and  who  knows 
what  ghosts  may  be  walking  ? " 

Was  he  guilty  of  that  murder?  I  shall  never  know. 
Alas  !  I  may  not  say  he  could  not  do  it,  for  if  his  will  were  set 
on  it,  and  his  pleasure  or  advantage  jumped  that  way,  I  fear 
he  would  not  shrink  from  even  that.  For  we  Italians  are 
without  religion,  and  corrupt  above  other  people.2  We  are 
individually  highly  developed,  and  have,  (since  the  Church 
sets  us  no  good  example,  and,  as  I  have  sometimes  thought, 
in  this  perhaps  the  influence  of  antiquity  is  most  unfavourable), 
as  it  were,  outgrown  the  limits  of  that  old  morality,  so  that 
we  despise  outward  law,  and  no  inward  rule  has  taken  its 
place  in  our  hearts.  And  again,  as  I  have  said,  everything 
in  our  country  is  illegitimate,  and  we  think  rather  of  greatness 

1  Yet  Nicolo  d'Este  died  so  soon  after. 

2  Cf.  Machiavelli,  Discorsi,  L.  i.  c.  12  and  55. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  105 

and  weakness  than  of  right  or  wrong,  are  more  ready  to  be 
evil  than  to  lack  force  or  virtu. 

Was  he  guilty  of  that  murder  ?  How  that  question  used 
to  torture  me,  who  loved  him  and  Ginevra  too !  Did  he 
perhaps  excuse  himself,  if  he  were  guilty,  with  the  remem- 
brance of  her  softness,  her  languorous  ways,  her  old  delight 
in  his  love?  Did  he  imagine  her  unfaithful  because  she 
divorced  herself  from  his  bed  ?  But  he  loved  many  women, 
and  denied  himself  nothing.  Truly  it  is  a  great  cruelty  that 
we  claim  to  do  whatever  we  wish  and  will  not  suffer  women 
to  do  the  same.  If  they  do  aught  which  does  not  please  us, 
there  we  are  at  once  with  cords  and  daggers  and  poison. 
Also  we  cannot  forget  an  injury  (and  this  should  assure  me 
of  the  innocence  of  Sigismondo,  since  the  Estese  remained  his 
friends)  I  do  not  say  forgive,  but  forget  it  as  a  Northerner 
would  do ;  we  nurse  our  grief  till  it  burns  us  up.  And  if  by 
chance  forgiveness,  that  generosity  hidden  in  the  heart,  be 
suddenly  awakened,  perhaps  by  the  preaching  of  a  Friar,  it  is 
murdered  at  once  by  our  imagination,  by  the  more  terrible  force 
of  the  memory  of  what  has  been  done,  and  can  never  be  undone. 

Something  of  all  this  moved  in  my  heart  all  through  that 
great  ceremony  of  the  funeral  at  S.  Francesco,  where 
Sigismondo  walked  alone,  followed  by  two  bishops  and 
many  clergy,  with  a  hundred  men,  clothed  sombrely  in 
brown,  carrying  torches ;  while  the  whole  city  came  after, 
many  in  tears,  for  they  had  loved  her  well,  her  quiet,  delicate 
ways,  her  shy  and  yet  proud  manner. 

But  all  this  meant  little  enough  to  Sigismondo.  War 
claimed  him,  and  almost  before  the  tears  were  dry  and  the 
lights  extinguished  he  was  away  to  meet  Piccinino.  Had  war 
become  a  sort  of  refuge  from  the  accusations  of  his  heart  ? 

However  that  may  be,  some  whisper  of  suspicion  as  to 
the  ending  of  that  innocent  life  had  reached  the  people; 
there  were  scared  faces  enough  at  that  Funeral,  and  some  of 


106  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

us  were  met  with  angry  looks  too  after  Sigismondo  was  gone. 
For  a  Friar  coming  from  Umbria  to  preach  in  the  March,  lack- 
ing matter  it  may  be,  seized  on  this,  and  seeing  our  Lord  away, 
did  not  scruple  to  prophesy  terrible  things  and  judgment  on  a 
people  whose  Lord  had  killed  his  wife.  And  this  impression 
of  the  guilt  of  Sigismondo,  thus  strengthened  by  the  ranting  of 
a  Friar,  was  confirmed  at  least  among  the  common  sort  by  a 
storm  of  rain  and  wind  that  fell  upon  us  no  long  time  after.1 
On  the  25th  of  October,  after  many  days  of  rain,  that 
had  flooded  the  Marecchia,  a  raging  wind  sprang  up  that  flung 
the  waves  so  high  on  that  beach  of  sand  at  the  river's  mouth 
that  the  water,  not  being  able  to  escape,  spread  over  the 
country  joining  the  Ausa,  which  seemed  towards  the  east 
of  the  city  rather  like  a  sea  than  a  river,  and  at  last  pene- 
trating into  the  town,  by  the  Porta  di  S.  Andrea,  Rimini 
seemed  like  a  little  Venice  surrounded  on  all  sides  by  water. 
In  this  flood  all  the  ships  in  the  port,  being  laden  or  loading, 
were  carried  from  their  anchorage,  some  into  the  fields 
against  the  Convent  of  S.  Domenico,  others  into  the  midst  of 
the  Borgo  S.  Giuliano,  and  many  over  the  roofs  of  the  lower 
houses  into  the  Piazza  di  S.  Nicolo,  where  they  went  aground. 
And  in  the  storm  the  custom-house  was  swept  into  the  sea, 
and  never  recovered,  many  losing  their  lives,  more  than  six 
thousand  scudi  of  damage  being  done.  Moreover,  the  fields 
were  so  long  under  water  that  many  of  the  vines  were  de- 
stroyed. Nor,  you  may  be  sure,  were  the  people  slow  to 
believe  that  this  was  the  judgment  promised  by  Master 
Friar  for  the  sins  of  Sigismondo,  and  this  report  was  carried 
through  Italy,  partly  by  the  people  and  sailors,  partly,  no 
doubt,  by  the  preacher  himself,  (for  be  sure  his  prophecies 
did  not  often  win  such  swift  fulfilment,)  got  Sigismondo  the 
credit  of  the  murder,  then  and  later.  But  again  I  say  in  my 
heart  I  know  not  whether  he  were  guilty  or  no. 

1  Clementini,  op.  cit.  vol.  ii.  p.   324. 


MANY  things,  scarcely  to  be  discerned  at  first,  were  to  result 
from  the  death  of  Madonna  Ginevra,  among  them  the  dis- 
solution of  relationship  with  the  Marchese  Nicolo,  who  in 
those  years  of  inexperience  had  been  Sigismondo's  guide. 
And  then  new  dreams  of  peace  were  afoot,  a  plan  of  which 
the  Marchese  was  the  principal  advocate,  to  bring  Milan  to 
terms  with  Sforza,  to  persuade  the  Duke  to  carry  out  his 
promise  to  give  Madonna  Bianca  to  him  in  marriage ;  and  for 
this  purpose  the  Marchese  journeyed  first  to  Venice  and  then 
to  Mantua,  contriving  at  last  that  Madonna  Bianca  should  be 
placed  in  his  Court  at  Ferrara  as  a  pledge — as  really  the  only 
means  of  conciliating  the  Count — till  peace  were  signed. 
But  then,  owing  perhaps  to  Piccinino's  return  to  Milan, 
really  alarmed  at  last,  or  to  a  difference  of  opinion  among  the 
others,  for  where  so  many  were  engaged  it  was  difficult  to 
come  to  an  agreement,  the  inconstant  Duke  changed  his 
purpose,  and  nothing  was  concluded. 

And  indeed,  very  early  in  the  year,  before  winter  was 
really  at  an  end,  the  Duke  began  the  war  again  in  Venetian 
territory ;  while  Count  Francesco,  exacting,  as  was  his  way, 
an  increase  of  pay  from  the  Venetians,  prepared  to  meet  him, 
enrolling  Sigismondo  among  his  captains.  Seeing  then  that 
all  his  efforts  had  come  to  nothing,  Marchese  Nicolo  led 
Madonna  Bianca  back  to  Milan. 

Now  at  this  time,  in  the  month  of  April,  Pandolfo  Mala- 

testa  of  Pesaro,  the  Archbishop,  died,  leaving  Galeotto,  the 

coward,  alone  in  the  government,  and  this  encouraged  many 

to  form  designs  upon  his  inheritance.     And  among  the  rest 

107 


108  SIGISMONDO    MALATESTA 

Sigismondo,  with  more  right  than  most,  being  of  the  same  race, 
and  Lord  of  Rimini  and  Fano  to  boot,  cast  a  longing  eye  on 
Pesaro,  for  while  it  belonged  to  another  he  had  ever  found 
it  as  a  thorn  in  his  heart.  But  Count  Guidantonio  of  Urbino, 
brother-in-law  to  Galeotto,  seven  days  after  the  death  of  the 
Archbishop,  went  to  Pesaro  with  Federigo,  his  son,  to  guard 
it  as  he  said,  for  he  trusted  not  the  stout  heart  of  Galeotto ; 
but  indeed,  as  we  thought,  these  two  hundred  horse  and  three 
hundred  foot  that  he  brought  with  him  were  for  use  rather 
against  us  than  any  other  adversary,  for  Sigismondo,  as  a 
Captain  of  the  League,  would  have  been  justified  in  attacking 
the  city,  under  pretext  of  the  known  adherence  both  of 
Urbino  and  Pesaro  to  the  Duke  of  Milan.  Nevertheless, 
war  was  not  yet  declared  between  Sigismondo  and  Urbino ; 
but  hearing  that  Antonio  Ordelaffi  was  negotiating  both  with 
the  Florentines  and  the  Milanese  as  to  the  surrender  of  Forli, 
on  3rd  July  he  went  thither  to  join  Orsini,  captain  of  the 
Florentines,  encamped  about  the  place,  taking  with  him  some 
fifteen  hundred  horse  and  five  hundred  foot.  Seeing  then 
the  strength  of  the  Florentines,  Ordelaffi  concluded  the 
agreement  two  days  later,  and  those  strongholds  that  had 
fallen  into  the  hands  of  the  Milanese  being  good,  the 
Gonfalon  of  Florence  flew  over  the  city.  In  the  meantime  in 
Rimini  he  had  given  refuge,  as  in  the  days  of  Carlo  Malatesta, 
to  Alberigo  Brancaleoni,  he  who  hated  the  Feltreschi  as  men 
hate  those  who  have  cheated  them,  and  he  would  say  that 
all  the  race  had  souls  of  cats — awaiting  an  opportunity  to 
seize,  with  the  help  of  Sigismondo,  already  enraged  about  the 
affair  of  Pesaro  Castel-Durante  and  other  places  of  Massa- 
Trebaria  of  which,  under  Pope  Martin,  the  Montefeltri  had 
despoiled  him.  And  though  Sigismondo  wished  him  well,  he 
thought  the  time  not  yet  ripe  for  war,  but  Brancaleoni,  sick 
with  longing,  thought  otherwise ;  therefore  at  the  end  of 
August,  seeing  the  Pope  ill-disposed  towards  Urbino  (and 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  109 

ideed  he  had  good  cause),  he  persuaded  Angelo  di  Pietro  di 
inghiari,  newly  related  to  him  by  marriage,  and  his  own 
rother  Gregorio,  to  join  him  and  make  war  upon  the  Feltre- 
schi.     And  Sigismondo  helped  them  secretly,  so  that  they 
took  Montelocco,  and  many  other  places  that  had  been  ours 
once,  including  Tavoleto. 

Now  Federigo  had  been,  till  this  news  reached  him,  in 

the  pay  of  the  Duke,  fighting  under  the  Lord  of  Faenza, 

but  on  the  i7th  September  he  came  in  haste  to  his  father's 

issistance  with  some  four  hundred  horse  and  two  hundred 

foot.    Thus  he  was  stronger  than  Messer  Angelo,  with  whom 

le  sought  a  battle ;  but  he  would  not.     Therefore  Federigo 

icked  Castello  di  S.  Croce  in  Sascorbaro,  and    encamped 

before  Montelocco,  placing  his  bombarde  for  a  siege. 

Meantime  the  war  in  Lombardy  was  languishing,  for  all 
were  tired  of  fighting  and  spending  immense  sums  of  money 
to  no  purpose ;  for  the  Duke  saw  that  he  could  gain  nothing 
against  Sforza,  and  the  Venetians  had  added  nothing  to  their 
territory  while  Piccinino  was  away,  and  he  had  now  returned  ; 
the  Florentines,  on  the  other  hand,  who  had  suffered  least,  had 
bought  Borgo  S.  Sepolcro  from  the  Pope  ;  Nicolo  d'Este,  with 
the  Pope's  leave,  had  possessed  himself  of  the  towns  of  the 
Manfredi  in  the  Imolese ;  and  again  Venice  had  gained 
Ravenna  by  the  good  will  of  the  people ;  Forli  had  surrendered 
to  Florence — all  had  their  fill,  and  the  Duke  was  an  old  man 
nearing  his  end.  Perhaps  he  feared  death,  and  wished  to  com- 
pose himself  to  meet  it  in  peace ;  perhaps  he  perceived  at  last 
the  cunning  of  his  captains,  who  were  anxious  rather  to  make 
themselves  Lords  at  his  expense  than  for  his  glory.  From 
whatever  cause  the  war  languished ;  while  Sforza  too  desired 
peace,  for  in  the  kingdom  he  had  lost  almost  everything  to 
Aragon,  who  considered  him  the  ally  of  King  Rene.  If  war 
ceased  in  Lombardy,  so  thought  Sforza  at  least,  he  would 
have  time  to  recover  what  he  had  lost  in  the  Kingdom ;  for 


110  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

he  alone  was  never  weary  of  war,  since  by  it  he  lived.  In 
these  circumstances  the  Duke,  seeing  that  peace  rested  really 
with  Sforza,  since  the  rest  were  content,  offered  him  again 
his  daughter  Bianca  in  marriage,  together  with  two  cities, 
Cremona  and  Pontremoli,  as  dowry,  the  which  Sforza  accepted, 
being  created  at  the  same  time  Arbiter  of  Peace. 

It  was  during  these  negotiations  that  Sigismondo,  fore- 
seeing what  would  come  to  pass,  threw  himself  openly  on  the 
side  of  Messer  Angelo  di  Pietro  di  Anghiari,  making  him  the 
sharer  of  his  fortunes,  promising  him  shelter  for  himself  and 
his  troops  in  any  part  of  his  territory.  Messer  Angelo,  on 
his  part  swearing  fealty  to  our  Lord  and  his  descendants, 
promising  to  serve  no  King,  Signory,  or  Commune  without 
Sigismondo's  leave. 

Then  Sigismondo,  one  night  in  Rimini,  laid  bare  his 
plans  to  me,  asking  for  my  advice.  And  I,  when  I  had  heard 
him  out,  was  silent  for  a  long  time,  thinking  of  many  things, 
and  especially  of  Madonna  Ginevra.  Was  it  for  this  she 
had  died  so  opportunely  as  it  seemed  ? 

For  Sigismondo,  knowing  the  genius  of  Sforza,  and  seeing 
easily  enough  that  since  he  was  to  marry  Madonna  Bianca  of 
Milan  the  Dukedom  would  one  day  be  his,  had  determined 
to  form  a  permanent  relationship  with  him,  and  to  enter  into 
negotiations  for  his  marriage  with  the  Count's  bastard 
daughter  Madonna  Polissena.  Now,  as  I  saw  well,  this 
proposal  would  be  welcomed  by  the  Count,  for  he  would 
think  that  thus  he  would  be  even  better  able  to  make  war 
in  the  Kingdom,  since  Sigismondo  would  be  in  Romagna  to 
watch  the  March  of  Ancona  for  him,  which  he  was  continually 
in  fear  he  would  one  day  be  forced  to  restore  to  the  Pope. 
And  so  it  happened  that  when  these  proposals  were  made 
to  Sforza  he  agreed  eagerly,  promising  Sigismondo  all  his 
support  towards  the  winning  of  Pesaro;  for  I  think  indeed 
he  knew  not  Sigismondo  as  Sigismondo  knew  him. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 


111 


All  these  things  being  thus  decided,  Sigismondo  ordered 
>me  of  his  squadrons  captained  by  his  condottieri  to  march 
to  the  help  of  Angelo  d'Anghiari,  while  he  himself  on  the 
ijrd  September  set  out  for  Fermo  for  his  second  marriage. 

And  presently  news  reached  Rimini  that  Messer  Angelo 
with  our  troops  was  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  Castle  of 
Montelocco,  which  he  had  taken  from  the  Feltreschi  with 
the  secret  help  of  Sigismondo,  when  Federigo  returned  from 
the  Duke's  service,  and  laid  siege  to  it  in  his  turn,  as  I 
have  related.  Then  in  Rimini  it  was  told  how  that,  on  ist 
October,  Messer  Angelo  had  attacked  Federigo,  and  defeated 
him,  scattering  his  army,  so  that  our  troops  relieved  the 
place ;  and  in  that  battle  the  first  honours  belonged  to  Messer 
Gregorio  d'Anghiari  and  to  our  Giuliano  di  Fano.  But 
Federigo  was  not  the  man  to  take  a  beating  lightly;  it 
was  not  long  before  we  heard  from  him;  for  in  revenge, 
entering  our  states  by  Verrucchio,  he  daily  gathered  troops, 
sparing,  as  we  heard,  no  expense  to  collect  an  army  to  do  us 
an  injury. 

But  this  game  pleased  not  Sforza,  who  desired  peace  in 
Romagna  and  the  March,  as  I  have  said ;  and  at  that  time 
too  he  was  about  to  set  out  for  Lombardy  as  pacificator  of 
Italy — such  is  the  irony  of  our  gods — and  to  marry  his 
prize,  the  daughter  of  the  Duke  of  Milan.  And  again,  as 
I  have  said,  he  relied  on  Sigismondo,  his  son-in-law,  to  defend 
the  March.  Therefore  he  was  determined  to  do  all  in  his 
power  to  make  general  peace,  and  in  this  cause,  on  i6th 
October,  he  came  to  Rimini,  and  on  the  next  day  went  to 
Urbino,  and  after  a  time  contrived  to  arrange  terms  of  peace, 
returning  to  us  in  Rimini  on  the  23rd.  But  on  that  night 
Matteo  Griffoni  da  S.  Arcangelo  in  Vado,  one  of  Urbino's 
best  lieutenants,  surprised  the  fortress  of  S.  Leo,  a  place  set 
on  a  great  hill  rising  like  a  phallus  in  the  valley,  and  after 
many  attempts  scaled  it  with  his  soldiers — a  thing  incredible 


112  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

had  it  been  defended,  but  Sigismondo,  confident  in  its  natural 
defence,  had  but  few  guards  there.  After  this  loss  we  heard 
no  more  of  the  peace,  for  Guidantonio  wished  to  forget  it. 
Not  so  Sforza,  who,  enraged,  threatened  worse  things  for 
Urbino  if  this  matter  went  not  as  he  wished.  Thus  on  the 
28th  of  that  month  he  arranged  a  truce  of  eight  days,  and 
this  was  first  prolonged  for  three  days  more,  and  then  again 
for  twenty  days  further;  while  Sforza  negotiated,  tirelessly 
seeking  peace,  nor  would  he  leave  the  March  till  it  was 
assured,  the  lands,  castles,  fortresses,  and  so  forth  being 
restored  on  both  sides.  This  being  arranged  (the  treaty 
was  signed  later  on  2^rd  November  in  Rimini),  the  Count 
went  northward  to  Cremona,  where  he  married  Madonna  i 
Bianca,  for  whom  he  had  fought  and  plotted,  and  contrived 
for  many  years ;  and  shortly  after  the  good  news  came  of 
the  peace  arranged  by  him  between  the  League  and  the 
Duke  of  Milan,  which  seemed  then  to  depend  upon  Sforza's 
marriage — a  strange  thing,  characteristic  of  the  lawlessness  of 
our  age;  yet  all  were  content  with  Sforza's  judgment  save 
the  Pope,  who  could  not  forget  the  March  of  Ancona. 

Things  being  thus  happily  settled  Sigismondo  left  Rimini 
on  the  3ist  December  to  congratulate  his  father-in-law,  who 
reposed  himself  with  Madonna  Bianca  in  Cremona.  More- 
over, there  was  much  to  discuss  and  arrange,  for  both 
Sigismondo  and  the  Count  hoped  to  act  together  to  their 
common  advantage. 

Now  Sforza  was  enraged  to  see  that  the  forces  of  King 
Rene  were  in  so  poor  a  plight ;  for  at  that  time  only  Naples 
itself  remained  to  him,  and  if  that  were  lost  the  whole 
Kingdom  would  stand  in  the  power  of  Aragon,  and  its 
recovery  be  for  ever  impossible.  Therefore  he  determined, 
as  soon  as  it  was  spring,  to  bring  Madonna  Bianca  to  the 
March,  and  himself  to  pass  with  all  possible  haste  into  the 
Kingdom,  as  King  Rene  warmly  urged  him.  This  and  other 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 


113 


things  too  (for  many  rumours  were  in  the  air  of  the  discon- 
tent of  the  Pope  with  the  peace ;  of  the  fury  of  Piccinino, 
who  had  seen  his  rival  and  enemy  become  the  son-in-law  of 
his  master)  Sforza  discussed  with  Sigismondo  in  Cremona 
during  the  first  three  months  of  the  new  year. 

Meantime  in  Rimini  we  suffered  famine,  for  owing  to  the 
flood  of  which  I  have  spoken  there  was  neither  bread  nor 
wine,  so  that  all  went  short ;  and  the  people,  remembering 
Madonna  Ginevra  and  the  words  of  their  Friar,  cursed 
Sigismondo  and  his  house;  but  this  remedied  nothing  and 
hurt  no  one.  We,  on  the  other  hand,  who  served  Sigis- 
mondo received  orders  to  set  S.  Arcangelo  in  order — that 
old  fortress  not  far  from  Rimini — to  receive  the  troops  of 
the  Count  passing  to  the  March.  They  came  on  25th  Feb- 
ruary. All  day  we  had  heard  their  trumpets  faintly  in  the 
wind,  and  at  evening  news  came,  not  without  excitement, 
cheering,  and  laughter  too  among  the  captains,  that  Piccinino 
was  created  Captain  and  Gonfaloniere  of  the  Church.  Thus 
old  Eugenius  showed  his  fangs,  and  bade  Sforza  look  to  it. 
Yet  for  a  whole  month  he  lingered  with  Sigismondo  in 
Cremona,  and  it  was  not  till  the  loth  March  that  our  Lord, 
accompanied  by  Alessandro  Sforza  and  all  the  troops  of  his 
company  on  their  way  to  the  March,  came  to  S.  Arcangelo. 
Then  Sigismondo,  still  in  the  company  of  the  Sforzeschi, 
went  to  Fermo  to  bring  home  Madonna  Polissena.  Ah ! 
when  I  remember  his  first  home-coming  with  Madonna 
Ginevra,  his  eagerness  and  enthusiasm  at  that  time  with  that 
little  lady  between  his  hands,  I  cannot  think  but  with  sad- 
ness of  that  gay  and  splendid  festa,  in  the  midst  of  which 
another  took  her  place  so  few  months  after  her  death,  her 
unaccountable  death.  Nor  was  I  alone  in  my  sadness,  for 
Madonna  Isotta  too  absented  herself  from  these  festivities, 
and  I  think  Sigismondo  himself  was  glad  when  they  were 
over  at  last.  Yet  indeed  they  were  splendid  enough  to 


114  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

delight  any  who  in  this  fleeting  life  sees  the  true  splendour 
of  such  things — the  laughter  dying  at  nightfall,  the  colours 
that  flaunt  on  the  fairest,  the  velvets  and  silks  and  such  that 
make  so  fair  a  show  to-day  cast  to-morrow  on  the  rag-heap, 
the  candles  in  the  sunlight  burning  away  to  nothingness,  the 
flowers  so  fair  at  sunrise  flagged  and  faded  at  noon,  the 
music  that  even  in  its  most  joyful  notes  bears  a  sort  of 
sadness  into  the  heart,  the  passing  of  the  passing  day.  Why 
should  I  think  of  these  things  now  when  they  are  departed, 
and  I  am  full  of  years,  and  already  have  a  foot  in  the  grave, 
but  that  yesterday  on  the  wind  that  had  passed  over  the 
fields  from  Florence  just  such  another  music  came  to  me 
from  some  spring  pageant  that  Signer  Lorenzo  is  so  bountiful 
in  providing  for  his  people,  so  that  all  day  I  caught  snatches 
of  joy  as  it  were;  and  at  night  the  city  was  illuminated,  and 
then  one  by  one  I  watched  the  torches  die,  and  the  lights 
fade  away  in  a  sort  of  neglected  silence,  when  all  the  shouting 
and  kisses  were  over  and  the  tired  city  had  gone  at  last  to 
rest.  And  at  that  moment,  turning  to  my  most  dear  Pico 
della  Mirandola,  seated  beside  me,  his  head  resting  on  his 
hands,  I  saw  there  were  tears  in  his  eyes  too;  yes,  even  in 
those  eyes  which  have  seen  the  very  truth. 

But  in  those  days  in  Rimini  was  there  anyone  sorry  but 
I  ?  May  be  not,  for  the  pale  and  winsome  face  of  Madonna 
Ginevra  was  hidden  in  the  glory  of  the  pageant,  the  lux- 
urious beauty  of  Madonna  Polissena.  Nor  had  we  in  Rimini 
spared  any  pains  to  make  that  entry  a  triumph.  The  road 
from  the  Porta  Romana  was  covered  with  cloth  of  fine  wool 
and  tapestries,  while  festivities  were  ordered  for  two  succes- 
sive days.  The  first  of  these  took  place  in  the  palace  1  with 
most  splendid  triumphs,  to  which  all  persons  worthily  dressed 
were  admitted.  Then  after  a  joyous  banquet  Sigismondo 

1  Is  this  the  Palace  of  the  Podesta  or  the  house  in  Via  S.  Croce  or  the 
Rocca,  as  yet  unfinished  ? 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 


115 


jated  Cavaliere  his  first  secretary,  and  my  friend,  Messer 
Pier  Giovanni  Brugnole,  who  had  conducted  the  negotiations 
for  this  marriage,  giving  him  a  beautiful  cloak  of  gold 
brocade,  with  a  sword  and  spear. 

The  second  festa  was  held  on  the  day  following,  in 
Piazza  del  Foro,  where  there  was  a  fine  joust,  Messer 
Giovanni  da  Riva  winning  the  prize — a  piece  of  blue  velvet. 
On  the  day  following  the  suite  and  guard  of  the  bride  left 
for  the  March. 

But  we  were  to  have  our  fill  of  festivals  that  year,  for  in 
the  month  of  May,  on  the  2jrd,  Count  Francesco,  on  his  way 
from  Cremona  to  the  March,  came  to  Rimini  with  Madonna 
Bianca  and  the  flower  of  his  troops,  displaying  six  standards. 
The  first  that  of  the  Pope,  the  second  that  of  the  Church, 
the  third  that  of  the  S.  Marco,  the  fourth  that  of  Florence, 
with  two  others  mysteriously  furled,  which  certainly  we  took 
to  be  his  own,  but  others  said  they  were  those  of  King  Rene. 
It  was  a  splendid  sight  to  see  this  great  company  enter  our 
city,  Madonna  Bianca  a-horseback,  with  eight  damozels  all 
dressed  alike  in  green  and  mounted  on  white  palfreys.  And 
we  went  out  to  meet  her  at  the  gate,  and  led  her  into  the 
city  and  to  court  under  a  baldacchino  of  silver  brocade,  and 
all  the  street  was  covered  with  white  cloths.  How  can  I  ex- 
press the  sweetness  of  the  songs  or  the  gaiety  of  the  balls, 
triumphs,  and  banquets  that  followed  ?  Only  one  song,  made 
by  Sigismondo,  remains  in  my  memory,  and  that  I  set  down 
for  his  sake,  though  may  be  it  was  not  the  sweetest.  .  .  . 

[Here  the  MS.  is  defective.] 


XI 

SFORZA  did  well  to  be  anxious.  That  peace  which  he  had 
made  willingly  enough,  far  from  bringing  him,  as  he  had 
hoped,  an  opportunity  to  recover  those  cities  lost  in  the 
Kingdom,  seemed  rather  to  be  about  to  involve  him  in  war 
for  the  defence  of  the  March.  For  while  the  Duke,  fearing 
to  see  himself  gradually  supplanted  by  his  son-in-law,  if  he 
should  remain  near  at  hand,  was  eager  for  him  to  depart  to 
the  Kingdom,  Aragon,  foreseeing  this,  had  long  been  treat- 
ing with  the  Pope,  and  now  suggested  to  him  that  the  time 
had  come  to  recover  Ancona.  In  this  cause,  as  I  have  said, 
Piccinino  gladly  entered  the  pay  of  Eugenius,  and  in  the 
early  spring  marched  against  Sforza. 

Now  Sigismondo  knew  not  what  to  do,  for,  on  the  one 
hand,  he  desired  the  help  of  Sforza  that  he  might  seize 
Pesaro,  and,  on  the  other,  he  did  not  wish,  for  no  cause  at 
all,  to  make  an  enemy  of  the  Pope  or  to  bring  Piccinino  into 
his  dominions.  Therefore,  after  much  debate,  he  determined 
to  pursue  his  old  tactics,  and  to  persuade  Novello,  his  brother, 
to  side  with  Piccinino  as  before,  while  he  still  fought  beside 
Sforza.  This  being  decided,  when  Piccinino  had  arrived  in 
Romagna,  on  26th  May,  Novello  had  honoured  him,  and  had 
made  him  welcome ;  but  Sigismondo,  when  he  saw  him  about 
to  pass  through  Montefeltro  for  Perugia,  first  ordering 
Sforza's  rearguard,  just  then  leaving  Rimini,  to  go  towards 
La  Marca,  followed  on  the  28th  with  sixteen  hundred  horse 
and  four  hundred  foot. 

Meantime  we  in  Rimini  were  very  anxious,  for  both 
Sforza  and  Sigismondo  were  outnumbered  by  the  Ecclesias- 

116 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  117 

tics,  and,  so  far  as  we  could  see,  might  not  face  them.     Nor 
was  our  fear  abated  when  we  had  news  that  Lonzana  was 
besieged,  and  that  the  enemy  had  much  artillery ;  neverthe- 
less, knowing  we  could  expect  no  aid  from  Sigismondo,  who 
was  busy  in  the  March,  we  gathered  a  tiny  force,  and  sent  in 
haste  to  try  to  relieve  Lonzana ;  and  that  valorous  gentleman, 
Messer  Andrea  Corso,  being  Constable  there,  we  had  hope  of 
success ;   and  in  this   we  were  not  disappointed,  for  he  so 
cheered  the  inhabitants  that  they  made  a  sortie,  and  being 
helped  at  the  same  time  by  our  men,  Piccinino's  troops  were 
put  to  flight,  and  we  took  many  prisoners  and  nearly  all  their 
bombarde.     But  fortune  was  against  us,  for  before  mid  July 
Piccinino  had  taken  Todi  and  Belfonte  from  the  Count,  and 
Citta  di  Castello  from  Florence,  his  old  enemy;  and  Sforza 
could  not  meet  him,  as  his  inferior  force  was  scattered  among 
his  fortresses,  so  that  at  last  Sernano  fell  also,  and  Piccinino 
went  into  the  wild  mountains  of  Visse.     Then  Sigismondo, 
who  was  lurking  in  a  valley  hard  by  at  the  foot  of  those 
mountains,  took  courage,  and,  joined  by  Pietro  Brunoro,  and 
taking  with    him    some    three    thousand    foot  and    sealers, 
climbed  up  over  the  crags  to  the  attack,  and  would  have 
utterly  defeated  Piccinino,  but  that  a  woman  named  Bona, 
whom  Brunoro  had  with  him,  sent  word  of  the  attack,  and  by 
this  means  he  escaped  defeat ;  and  indeed  the  aspect  of  the 
affair  changed  so  much  for  the  worse  that  our  men  were  in 
great  danger,  and  lost  at  last  as  many  as  the  enemy,   and 
among  them  our  valiant  Federigo  Sassoferrato. 

The  next  news  we  had  in  Rimini  was  that  the  Pope, 
blind  with  rage,  and  hoping  to  attain  by  spiritual  means 
what  his  arms  were  unable  to  accomplish,  had  declared 
Sforza  a  rebel  against  the  Holy  See.  And  in  the  middle  of 
August  we  heard  that  Cardinal  Scarampo,  he  who  was 
formerly  Archbishop  of  Florence,  and  who  had  taken 
Vitelleschi's  place  when  they  killed  him  in  S.  Angelo,  was 


118 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 


marching  against  the  Count.  Then  Sforza  turned  to  Venice 
for  aid,  not  hoping  for  it  indeed,  but  that  in  case  he  should 
need  it  he  might  know  how  he  stood.  But  the  Republic 
was  tired  of  war,  and  delighted  too  to  see  Sforza  breathless, 
and  it  hoped  to  keep  him  so  till  the  Duke  came  to  die. 
Nor  were  the  Florentines  willing  to  help  him,  though  they 
won  him  truces  from  time  to  time,  but  never  for  long 
enough  to  give  him  much  advantage. 

Now  about  this  time — that  is  to  say,  in  the  month  of 
August — there  befell  us  in  Rimini  another  of  those  strange 
and  terrible  storms  that  the  people,  simple  in  such  affairs  of 
the  stars,  superterrestial  as  they  are,  always  considered  as 
the  judgment  of  God,  His  displeasure  with  them,  and 
especially  with  their  Lord.  Whether  indeed  in  their  innocence 
ind  simplicity  they  may  be  aware  where  we  are  unmoved, 
I  know  not,  but,  considering  the  outcome  of  this  war  and 
the  evils  that  presently  fell  upon  us,  it  may  be  that  a  right 
understanding  of  these  signs  would  have  warned  us  of  some 
peril,  so  that  in  time  we  might  have  prevented  the  misfortunes 
that  awaited  us.  For  the  sun  was  darkened  and  eclipsed, 
and  a  rushing  mighty  wind  from  the  west  blew  down  upon 
us,  with  rain,  and  hailstones  as  large  as  small  loaves  of  twenty 
or  thirty  ounces,  and  the  fury  of  the  wind  and  the  noise 
were  such  that  we  feared  for  our  city,  and  some  thought 
indeed  that  the  end  of  this  world  was  at  hand.  And  this 
tempest,  continuing  a  whole  hour,  threw  down  the  greater 
part  of  the  buildings  of  our  city,  with  the  smaller  towers, 
and  the  walls  guarding  it  seaward  were  destroyed  as  though 
by  Sigismondo's  bombards.  Among  the  churches  and  Holy 
places  which  suffered  was  S.  Nicolo,  the  facade  of  which 
was  utterly  ruined,  while  the  church  of  the  Nuns  of  the 
Angioli  fell,  killing  three  of  them  who  were  praying.  Such 
is  the  irony  of  God.  All  our  roads  too  were  destroyed, 
and  the  fruit  and  the  crops;  and  this  befell  in  a  time  of 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  119 

scarcity.  Then  followed  a  miracle,  as  the  people  said,  for 
while  Messer  Morano  degli  Strozzi  of  Florence,  seeing  the 
horrid  tempest,  had  taken  refuge  in  the  house  of  Messer 
Bartolomeo  della  Brava,  with  his  friend,  Messer  Rinalduccio 
di  Fulcetti,  the  sea  carried  a  boat  on  to  the  roof  of  the  house, 
which  crashed^  down,  killing  Messer  Rinalduccio  and  a  woman 
with  her  bimbo,  but  Messer  Morano  escaped.  And  the 
people  said  such  it  was  to  be  a  Florentine.  Thus  in  Rimini 
we  were  as  unfortunate  as  in  the  field,  where  things  were 
unfavourable  to  us,  and  we  made  no  headway ;  for  while,  on 
the  one  hand,  the  war  brought  us  no  nearer  Pesaro,  on  the 
other  it  lost  us  many  Castles,  and  involved  us  in  a  quarrel  in 
which  we  had  no  interest.  And  this  disturbed  Sigismondo, 
so  that  he  was  angered  with  Sforza. 

About  this  time  it  seemed  to  Aragon,  who  had  possessed  him- 
self of  Naples,  that  it  might  be  as  well  to  win  Sforza  to  his  side, 
for  his  barons  gave  him  no  peace  in  the  Kingdom.  Therefore 
he  sent  an  ambassador  Messer  Inico  Ghevara,  to  Sforza,  offer- 
ing him  pardon  if  he  would  acknowledge  him  as  King.  Now 
when  Sigismondo  heard  this  he  was  furious,  for  he  thought 
that  if  he  had  nothing  but  loss  from  this  war,  no  more 
should  Sforza.  Therefore  when  the  Count  asked  his  advice 
as  to  the  answer  to  be  made  to  the  King,  Sigismondo,  with 
much  craft,  pointed  out  that  a  double  advantage  might  be 
won  if  news  were  spread  that  the  King  and  he  were  in 
agreement ;  for,  on  the  one  hand,  it  would  terrify  Piccinino 
and  the  Pope,  and,  on  the  other,  it  would  encourage,  in  their 
present  disorder,  Sforza's  faithful  followers  of  the  March, 
many  of  whom  were  on  the  point  of  deserting  him.  Sforza 
thought  well  of  this  advice,  and,  following  Sigismondo's 
suggestion,  we  had  letters  forged,  in  which  Aragon  requested 
Sforza's  return,  and  promised  to  defend,  preserve,  and  increase 
his  dominion,  as  well  as  to  create  him  Grand  Seneschal.  And, 
with  much  effrontery,  these  letters  were  shown  to  Ghevara, 


120  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

who  in  the  meantime  was  practically  a  prisoner.  Then 
other  letters  were  forged,  in  which  the  above-named  agree- 
ment was  announced  as  signed,  and  these  letters  were 
published  in  camp.  All  this  being  done,  Piccinino  was 
deceived,  so  that  he  granted  a  new  truce.  But  Sforza 
had  not  seen  how  fugitive  his  advantage  would  be,  for 
when  Inico  returned,  as  he  did,  with  this  information 
Aragon  felt  insulted,  so  that  not  only  did  he  seize 
everything  that  was  Sforza's  in  the  Kingdom,  but  he 
sent  word  to  Piccinino  that  he  intended  soon  to  join  him  in 
the  field,  to  inflict  vengeance  upon  Sforza  both  for  the 
insult  offered  to  himself  and  for  that  inflicted  upon  Piccinino. 
Now  that  captain,  seeing  from  these  tactics  that  Sforza  was 
at  his  last  gasp,  though  the  year  was  far  advanced,  fell  upon 
Tolentino  (where  the  Count  then  was),  Gualdo,  and  Assisi, 
and  took  them. 

On  1 4th  December  Sigismondo  returned  to  Rimini,  for 
winter  had  come.  A  terrible  winter  it  was  too  for  Sigis- 
mondo, who  had  gained  nothing  but  fear  and  misery  from 
his  connection  with  Sforza.  For  days  he  would  walk 
moodily  about  the  Palace,  speaking  to  none ;  then  sometimes 
he  would  rouse  himself,  and  often  in  the  company  of  Madonna 
Isotta  he  would  seem  quite  cheerful  for  a  time.  And  other 
loves  he  had  too,  more  fleeting  and  less  worthy,  of  whom  now 
and  then  we  heard,  as  Madonna  Vannella  of  Fano,  where 
he  was  very  busy  with  fortifications  for  the  spring.  Only  he 
was  always  restless,  fearing  that  his  lordship  might  go  the 
way  Sforza's  seemed  to  have  gone,  while  any  possibility  of 
gaining  Pesaro  seemed  as  far  off  as  ever. 

Nevertheless,  in  the  new  year  we  were  all  more  joyful 
than  we  had  had  reason  to  be  for  many  months.  For  certain 
differences  which  had  arisen  between  Sigismondo  and 
Novello  were  arranged  on  the  last  day  of  the  old  year,  in 
accordance  with  the  judgment  of  the  Dottore  Giovanni  de' 


S1GISMONDO   MALATESTA 


121 


[azzancolli,  our  friend — Sigismondo  going  to  Cesena  to  visit 
his  brother,  who  had  married  Madonna  Violante  of  Urbino  in 
the  previous  June.  Novello  in  his  turn  came  to  Rimini  on  the 
4th  January,  staying  for  two  days  on  his  way  to  Urbino  to 
claim  his  wife,  and  so  that  affair  was  settled.  Then  on 
i  st  February  Madonna  Polissena  gave  birth  to  a  son,  who  on 
the  i;th  was  baptised  Galeotto  Novello  in  memory  of  il  Beato 
and  to  mark  the  new  friendship  between  our  lord  and  his 
brother,  Fra  Bartolomeo,  that  good  old  man  holding  him  at 
the  font. 

But  these  fortunate  things,  the  delightful  joys  of  family 
life,  are  fleeting  with  Lords  and  soldiers,  and  in  our  case  at 
my  rate  they  proved  but  a  glint  of  sunshine  that  ushered  in  a 
lay  of  storm  and  terror  that  came  near  to  ruin  us.  For  soon 
we  heard  that  Aragon  and  the  Pope  were  friends;  and 
knowing  that  a  campaign  was  inevitable  Sigismondo,  fearing 
the  worst,  yet  determined  by  some  means  to  grasp  the  best, 
set  out  for  Fano  to  put  the  last  touches  to  that  place,  that  it 
might  be  defended  against  all  comers.  Ah  !  how  weary  those 
years  of  war  seem  now,  yet  then  they  possessed  a  certain  ex- 
citement and  even  a  joy  that  my  pen  certainly  is  not  able  to 
express  or  to  communicate  to  even  the  most  enthusiastic  who 
shall  happen  upon  this  manuscript. 

Now  while  Sigismondo  was  in  Fano,  Count  Guidantonio 
of  Urbino  came  to  die.  Therefore  our  Lord  hurried  back  to 
Rimini,  for  it  was  wrell  known  that  Oddantonio,  his  legitimate 
son  and  successor,  was  ruining  himself  with  women,  and  Sigis- 
mondo thought  that  in  these  circumstances  he  might  be  able 
to  take  Pesaro,  that  treasure  he  coveted,  from  Galeazzo,  the 
coward.  Therefore  he  sent  first  Andrea  da  Gradara,  who 
had  once  been  in  the  service  of  that  Lord,  to  Pesaro,  and 
after  him  came  troops  disguised  as  merchants,  hoping  thus  to 
take  the  city;  but  they  were  betrayed  (it  was  Andrea 
de'  Romuli,  a  Florentine,  one  of  these  soldiers,  who  did  this 


122  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

thing  for  money),  and  some  of  them  were  hanged.    This  was 
the  first  of  our  misfortunes. 

In  May  Sigismondo,  having  put  Fano  in  order,  and  Rimini 
too  as  far  as  might  be,  though  the  Rocca  was  not  yet 
finished,  sent  into  the  March  six  hundred  infantry,  and  later 
followed  them,  joining  the  Count.  Nor  was  it  long  before 
we  heard  from  them,  for  on  6th  June  they  took  S.  Natoglia, 
of  the  lords  of  Camerino,  from  Piccinino ;  and  after  the  fight, 
which  had  been  fierce,  it  was  delivered  to  the  soldiery- 
Constable  Pazaglia  being  cut  in  pieces  for  some  evil  he  had 
spoken  of  Sigismondo.  It  was  easy  to  see  that  our  Lord  was 
in  earnest.  Nor  was  this  all,  for  a  short  time  after  Tolentino 
fell  into  their  hands,  so  that  the  affairs  of  the  Count,  and 
ours  with  his,  seemed  to  be  improving.  Nevertheless,  all  this 
was  outweighed  by  the  agreement  in  June  of  Aragon  and 
the  Pope,  and  later  by  the  redemption  of  the  King's  promise 
to  Piccinino,  for  in  August  he  arrived  in  the  March  with 
a  great  army.  In  July  we  had  urged  the  Florentines,  and  the 
Venetians  too,  to  send  us  help,  but  they  delayed ;  and  when 
Aragon  came  in  August  it  seemed  as  though  we  were  already 
beaten,  without  a  blow,  for  our  troops  were  too  few  to  oppose 
so  large  an  army  in  the  open;  and  then  almost  before  we 
could  arrange  anything  Sassoferrato,  one  of  our  strongholds, 
capitulated  to  the  pontifical  troops. 

What  to  do  ?  Count  Francesco  thought  it  best  to  dis- 
tribute his  troops  among  his  strongholds,  and  to  retire  with 
Sigismondo  to  Fano,  which  they  might  hold  against  any,  till 
help  came  from  Venice  and  from  Florence.  This  Sigismondo 
agreed  to  do,  for  he  wished  to  remain  in  those  parts,  partly 
in  order  to  be  in  his  own  Lordship,  lest  anything  unforeseen 
might  happen,  and  partly  that  he  might  watch  Pesaro,  on 
which  his  heart  was  set  more  than  ever,  now  that  misfortune 
was  heavy  on  him.  Nor  was  he  idle,  for,  thinking  to  in- 
gratiate himself  with  Aragon,  he  asked,  and  received,  a  safe 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  123 

conduct  to  go  to  visit  him ;  but,  hearing  that  he  was  still  far 
away  round  Rocca  Contnida,  he  failed  to  appear,  or  to  send 
any  answer  to  the  messenger  of  Alfonso.  It  was  then  for 
the  first  time  the  king  understood  the  cunning  and  fickleness 
of  Sigismondo,  who  at  the  time  was  in  Rimini,  where  we 
were  busy  sending  any  troops  we  could,  both  our  own  and 
Sforza's,  by  sea  and  land  to  Fano;  but  the  way  by  land 
was  now  closed  to  us,  Count  Dolce  dell'  Anguillara  being 
turned  back  at  Cattolica  with  his  men. 

It  was  September,  and  no  great  misfortune  had  overtaken  us 
since  the  fall  of  Sassoferrato,  when,  to  our  great  joy,  Messer 
Angelo  da  Anghiari  arrived  with  some  fifteen  hundred  men 
from  Florence,  and  though  their  help  was  late,  for  Sforza  had 
already  lost  all  the  March  save  Fermo,  Ascoli,  and  Rocca 
Contrada,  now  besieged,  they  were  welcome  enough.  But 
Aragon  and  Piccinino  were  not  long  idle,  nor  for  long  were  they 
content  to  waste  their  time  over  Rocca  Contrada,  for  already 
Aragon  was  needed  in  the  Kingdom,  and  to  finish  it  was 
necessary  to  take  Fano.  I  have  heard  that  they  hesitated 
before  doing  this,  knowing  its  strength,  but  then,  remember- 
ing their  forces  and  our  poverty,  on  i2th  September  they 
began  the  siege,  Aragon  placing  himself  with  his  army  at 
Cerbara  on  the  Metauro.  Thither  came  also  Piccinino,  with 
Novello  and  Federigo  of  Urbino,  eager  to  win  a  great  repu- 
tation, that  his  way  might  be  clear  to  succeed  his  brother, 
spoiled  by  women.  When  all  had  assembled,  so  great  was 
their  number  that  they  extended  all  round  the  confines  of 
Urbino  and  Pesaro.  Still  Sigismondo  was  uncertain  what  to 
do.  At  one  time  he  thought  of  giving  up  the  Count  to 
Aragon ;  but  that  was  difficult,  for  Sforza,  pawning  all  his 
wife's  jewels,  and  his  furniture  and  precious  objects  with 
the  Jews,  had  money  enough  to  pay  his  men,  and  had  taken 
care  to  guard  Fano  with  these;  and  then,  as  Sigismondo 
thought,  it  might  have  been  unwise  also,  for  the  Duke  would 


124  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

not  be  content  to  see  his  son-in-law  altogether  vanquished. 
However  heartless  and  brutal  that  may  seem,  it  was  indeed 
most  terrible  for  Sigismondo  to  see  his  dominion  overrun, 
his  strong  city  besieged,  for  no  cause  of  his  own,  but  for 
Sforza's  sake;  while  Pesaro  still  lay  there  in  the  sun,  the 
prize  of  the  strongest. 

The  siege,  the  story  of  which  I  will  briefly  relate  (and 
those  who  are  anxious  for  the  details  must  find  them  in  the 
history  of  Messer  Gaspare  Broglio,  who  was  a  soldier),  was 
one  of  the  most  extraordinary  of  that  age.  We  in  Rimini 
had  the  tale  piece  by  piece,  and,  in  spite  of  our  fear,  could 
not  but  laugh,  so  cunning  were  Sigismondo  and  the  Count, 
so  reckless  and  eager  was  Piccinino.  It  seems  that  day  by 
day  Piccinino  assaulted  and  fell  back,  and  assaulted  again, 
without  gaining  much,  or  indeed  anything,  when  Messer 
Antonelle  dalle  Cornie,  a  valorous  gentleman,  and  friend  of 
Sforza's,  going  out  by  night  to  forage,  fell  into  the  hands 
of  Carlo  da  Montone,  and  was  brought  before  Piccinino. 
There,  to  that  Captain's  face,  he  began  to  glorify  the  valour 
of  Sforza's  troops,  as  though  mocking  the  Bracchesi,  and  in 
this  he  so  provoked  Piccinino,  who  was  old,  lame,  maimed, 
and  scarcely  able  to  walk,  that  he  offered,  in  a  rage,  to  fight 
a  duel  with  the  Count,  or  to  fight  ten  against  ten,  or  a 
hundred  against  a  hundred ;  but  for  all  this  Messer  Antonello 
did  not  cease  to  excite  him  more  and  more,  deriding  not  only 
his  troops,  but  Piccinino  himself;  for  he  thought  it  would 
be  no  small  advantage  to  the  Count  if  a  battle  could  be 
arranged  on  some  such  terms,  and  he  loved  Sforza  well 
enough  to  risk  his  head  in  the  attempt.  Nor  was  his 
judgment  at  fault,  for  he  brought  his  head  and  the  challenge 
out  of  the  encounter  safely,  since  Piccinino,  wishing  Sforza 
to  know  of  the  affair,  set  him  free,  and  sent  him  into  Fano. 

The  Count  laughed  for  long,  thinking  this  an  excellent 
means  to  keep  off  the  assault  against  the  city.  Therefore 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  125 

ie  sent  a  Trumpeter  to  Piccinino,  saying  that  he  had  accepted 
a  hundred  against  a  hundred,  provided  that  amongst  the 
hundred  was  Piccinino  himself,  for  he  wished  to  meet  him 
in  person. 

That  was  the  first  news  that  reached  us  in  Rimini.  Later 
we  heard  that  the  Trumpeter  had  returned,  and  had  brought 
away  a  silver  brocade  coat  and  ten  ducats,  and  that  with  him 
came  a  Herald  to  arrange  the  time  and  place  of  the  fight. 
The  Count  gave  the  Herald  twenty-five  ducats  and  a  coat  of 
gold  brocade,  saying  that  as  soon  as  Piccinino  had  decided 
about  the  place  he  would  decide  about  the  time. 

Now  Piccinino,  eager  as  ever,  had  told  Aragon  of  all 
this,  who  for  the  love  he  bore  him,  but  chiefly  for  fear  that 
he  should  find  himself  without  a  captain  in  the  March,  ex- 
horted him  at  first  to  abandon  such  a  thought ;  but  seeing  he 
gained  nothing  by  this,  (and  earnestly  begged  by  Piccinino,) 
he  wrote  to  the  Count  that  the  field  could  be  in  any  place, 
either  in  the  Kingdom  or  in  the  States  of  the  Church.  And 
at  last  it  was  decided,  after  every  sort  of  delay,  that  they 
should  fight  where  they  were,  between  the  walls  of  Fano 
and  the  Camp.  Then  the  Count  asked  for  time,  since  he  was 
besieged,  and,  this  being  granted,  he  chose  one  hundred  men, 
and  sent  out  of  the  city  for  a  hundred  good  coursers,  at  the 
same  time,  or  may  be  somewhat  before,  sending  messengers 
to  the  Duke,  his  father-in-law,  telling  him  of  the  encounter 
proposed  by  Piccinino,  and  adding  that  he  was  sorry  for  it, 
as  he  knew  the  love  the  Duke  had  for  that  Captain,  but  his 
honour  forbade  him  to  refuse.  He  was  sorry  too,  he  added, 
and  above  all,  that  he  who  had  just  gained  the  Duke's  love 
should  be  attacked  by  Piccinino  and  by  the  King  of  Aragon 
with  so  huge  a  force,  for  it  seemed  as  though  the  Duke 
were  rather  disposed  to  support  his  enemies  than  his  son. 

To  this,  as  we  heard,  the  Duke  answered  (partly  moved 
thereto  by  Sforza's  difficulties,  partly  by  the  trouble  of 


126  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

Piccinino)  that  he  would  show  he  thought  of  him  as  a  son 
by  taking  away  from  him  every  fear  of  the  King ;  and  he 
desired  that  the  challenges  should  not  be  accepted.  Mean- 
while he  wrote  to  the  King,  suggesting  that  he  had  done 
enough  for  the  Ecclesiastics,  and  begging  him  to  offend  the 
Count  no  further.  To  Piccinino  he  wrote  that  his  safety 
was  so  dear  to  him  that  he  could  not  allow  him  to  risk  the 
engagement.  To  this  Piccinino  and  the  King  replied,  begging 
the  Duke  to  consent ;  but  he  stood  firm,  and  would  not. 

The  day  being  come  that  had  been  appointed  for  the 
fight,  Piccinino  sent  a  Trumpeter  before  daybreak  to  warn 
the  Count  that  he  was  ready,  but  the  Count  answered  that 
he  would  come  when  the  army  of  Aragon  was  twenty-five 
miles  distant ;  for  he  knew  by  then,  as  was  the  case,  that 
urgent  affairs  called  Aragon  to  Naples.  Withal  at  dawn 
Piccinino  led  his  hundred  into  the  field,  and  sent  two 
Trumpeters  to  Fano  to  tell  the  Count  he  awaited  him  and 
marvelled  at  his  cowardice ;  but  Sforza  sent  the  same  reply. 
Then,  seeing  Sforza  would  not  come  out,  they  made  ready 
to  depart,  blowing  furiously  on  their  trumpets  at  the  gates  of 
Fano.  And  a  few  days  later,  the  King  setting  out  for  the 
Kingdom,  where  he  was  forced  to  winter,  the  siege  was 
raised,  for  in  and  around  Rimini  a  large  force  from 
Florence  and  from  Venice  was  already  collected  to  help  the 
Count,  so  that  Piccinino,  fearing  to  be  taken  in  the  rear,  and 
wishing  to  prevent  Sforza' s  army  joining  those,  encamped  on 
the  Foglia  at  Monte  Levecchie,  the  boundary  of  Pesaro 
Urbino  and  Rimini. 

Then  came  our  turn  in  Rimini,  for  before  we  had  had  no 
fear  for  our  city,  but  now  it  stood  in  the  very  eye  of  the 
enemy.  Soon  we  heard  that  Piccinino,  with  Federigo  and 
Novello,  had  taken  the  castle  of  Meleto,  and  sacked  it,  though 
Novello  saved  the  women.  And  on  the  day  after  we  heard 
their  trumpets  on  the  wind,  and  saw  their  fires,  for  they 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 


127 


ivaged  the  country  as  far  as  Ariccione ;  and  all  the  time 
re  perforce  were  idle,  for  we  were  not  strong  enough  to  meet 
them. 

Then  suddenly  we  had  great  news — strange  news  and 
great  news,  incredible  at  first — but  easy  to  understand  later 
when  one  thought  it  over.  For  it  was  said  the  Duke  had 
joined  the  League,  and  would  help  Sforza,  and  through  Sforza 
us  also,  who  had  lost  so  much  on  his  account.  Hard  to 
understand,  I  said  hard  to  believe,  yet  when  considered 
rightly  easy  to  explain;  for  Duke  Filippo  had  not  the 
courage  to  see  Sforza  undone,  and  at  the  same  time  to  watch 
the  friendship  of  Aragon  and  the  Pope. 

Now  the  Count,  wishing  to  consult  with  Sigismondo, 
seeing  the  road  thither  held  by  the  troops  of  Piccinino,  went 
aboard  ship  with  Ciarpellone,  one  of  his  best  captains,  and 
came  by  sea  to  our  city,  where,  after  consulting  with  Sigis- 
mondo, they  went  together,  taking  troops  to  Mondaino,  whence 
the  army  of  Piccinino  could  be  seen ;  (for;  to  get  provisions, 
no  easy  thing,  he  had  gone  round  Monteluro.  Then  the  Count 
returned  by  the  same  way  to  Fano,  taking  with  him  many 
soldiers.  Piccinino  hearing  of  this,  and  to  draw  the  Count 
into  a  snare,  sent  Roberto  da  Montalboddo  with  about  three 
hundred  horse  towards  Fano,  and  arrived  there  he  ordered 
him  to  make  as  though  to  retreat  on  the  road  to  Sahara,  but 
when  about  three  miles  from  Fano  he  was  to  await  the 
Count,  and  to  fall  upon  him,  Piccinino  himself  being  near  to 
support ;  and  so  it  happened.  And  again  Sforza  was  forced 
to  retire  into  the  city  in  confusion,  after  losing  many  men. 

Furious  at  these  continual  defeats  Sforza  at  last  led  all 
his  troops  towards  Rimini,  and  coming  into  the  city  with  the 
Venetian  ambassador,  after  a  long  consultation  he  and  Sigis- 
mondo led  the  army  towards  Monteluro.  Not  long  after  they 
were  overtaken  by  the  Marchese  d'Este  with  eight  hundred 
horse  from  the  Venetians,  when  on  the  8th  November,  with 


128  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

all  these  troops,  they  set  out  to  cross  the  Foglia.  But  Picci- 
nino,  hearing  of  this,  sent  Novello  and  Roberto  di  Montalboddo 
to  Montelabbate  to  hold  the  river. 

Now  Sigismondo  came  first  leading  his  men,  and  when 
he  came  to  the  river-bank  and  saw  not  Piccinino's  troops  only, 
but  the  Captain  himself,  it  seemed  to  him  that  the  presence 
of  that  general  so  close  to  our  armies  was  not  only  an  insult, 
but  showed  contempt  even  for  Sforza  and  himself.  There- 
fore he  resolved,  though  at  great  risk,  to  attack  him  at  once ; 
and,  without  any  hesitation,  plunging  into  the  flood  he  led  his 
men  with  ferocity,  surprising  the  enemy,  who  had  not  expected 
him  to  attack  them  in  a  position  so  unfavourable,  so  that  they 
hesitated  to  engage  him.  And  Sforza  coming  up  was  as 
surprised  and  angry  as  they,  for  he  thought  Sigismondo's 
game  foolhardy,  and  even  tried  (in  vain)  to  stop  the  encounter, 
for  Sigismondo,  as  was  his  way,  kept  it  going  hotly.  Then 
was  seen  the  unconscious  wisdom  of  our  Lord,  for  Piccinino's 
troops,  crying  out  for  mercy,  did  not  wish  to  fight,  but  to  eat 
and  drink,  and  though  they  fought  valiantly  for  many  hours 
they  could  not  stop  our  men  nor  Sigismondo,  as  ever  in  the 
van,  who  with  his  own  hand  cut  down  Giovanni  da  Caravaggio, 
one  of  their  captains,  and  was  himself  found  to  be  wounded, 
when,  night  falling,  the  battle  died  away  in  the  valleys.  In 
the  darkness  Piccinino  and  Novello  stole  away  towards  Fano ; 
but  on  the  morrow  Sigismondo  took  Monteluro,  Granatola, 
Pozzo,  and  La  Tomba;  and  thinking  only  of  Pesaro  now,  and 
reminding  the  Count  of  what  he  owed  him,  persuaded  him  to 
attack  that  city.  At  first  the  Count  refused,  thinking  that 
the  best  means  to  secure  it  was  to  dispose  of  the  enemy  in 
the  field ;  but  when  Sigismondo,  in  a  rage,  threatened  to  leave 
him,  he  agreed,  if  those  adherents  of  Sigismondo  within  the 
city  would  rise  at  the  appointed  time. 

On  1 1  th  November  therefore  they  encamped  before  the 
city  with  some  twelve  thousand  soldiers ;  but  delay  was  fatal 


SIGISMONDO    MALATESTA  129 

to  their  hopes,  for  the  Count  of  Urbino  heard  of  their  design, 
and  Federigo  had  entered  the  city  with  his  troops  on  the  day 
before.  Seeing  this,  and  being  anxious  not  to  lose  the  fruit 
of  their  victory  over  Piccinino,  after  taking  the  castles  of 
Candelara,  Montelabbate,  and  Novilara,  with  Montalboddo, 
both  the  Count  and  Sigismondo  laid  siege  to  S.  Piero  dell' 
Aglio,  but  in  spite  of  every  effort  and  device  with  bombarde  and 
engines  contrived  by  Sigismondo,  who  continued  the  siege 
throughout  December,  they  were  compelled  by  winter  to 
abandon  it.  Sigismondo,  however,  remained  in  La  Marca 
dth  his  father-in-law  the  greater  part  of  January,  only  re- 
turning to  Rimini  on  the  2^rd  of  that  month. 

More  furious  and  enraged  than  before  at  the  uselessness 
of  the  campaign,  in  which  for  Sforza's  sake  he  had  not 
only  risked  the  loss  of  Pesaro,  which  might  have  been  his, 
but  had  placed  his  own  dominions  in  jeopardy,  notwithstand- 
ing the  severity  of  the  season — for  indeed  the  snow  lay  deep 
in  the  valleys,  and  from  day  to  day  more  snow  fell,  so  that  \ 
the  roads  were  almost  impassable, — on  8th  February  he  set 
out,  as  it  happened,  in  a  snowstorm,  in  which  it  was  impossible 
to  see  a  man  standing  ten  feet  distant,  for  Monte  Gaudio, 
in  the  territory  of  Pesaro,  hoping  even  yet  to  win  something 
for  himself.  On  that  day  too,  almost  overcome  by  cold  and 
fatigue,  Bartolomeo  Colleoni  arrived  in  our  dominion  with 
one  thousand  horse  and  four  hundred  foot  from  the 
Venetians,  and  this,  as  we  learned,  alarmed  the  Ecclesiastics 
more  than  anything  that  had  happened,  for  they  knew  the 
fame  of  that  commander,  and  knew  too  for  what  purpose 
he  had  come  hither.  Later,  news  came  breathless  that 
Sigismondo  had  compelled  Monte  Gaudio  to  surrender,  and 
was  about  to  make  a  raid  into  the  territory  of  Urbino.  On 
1 7th  March  he  won  a  victory  at  Cagli,  and,  turning  aside, 
marched  on  Sinigaglia,  when  Galeazzo,  the  coward,  already  a 
captive  in  his  heart,  made  a  truce  with  him,  to  which  Sigis- 


130  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

mondo  consented  not  unwillingly,  for  we  had  sent  him  word 
of  the  approach  of  Francesco  Piccinino  to  his  father's 
assistance  with  six  hundred  horse  and  three  hundred  foot. 
The  truce  was  published  in  Rimini  on  2nd  April,  and  was  to 
last  for  fifteen  days ;  but  later,  Sigismondo  seeing  no  help  for 
it,  consented  to  prolong  it  till  June,  and  at  the  Count's 
request  set  out  for  Venice,  to  hasten,  if  it  were  possible,  the 
payment  of  the  money  due  from  that  Republic  to  Sforza. 
Just  here  we  come  upon  one  of  the  fatal  mistakes  (for  I  see 
no  reason  to  use  a  harsher  term)  of  Sigismondo's  life. 
For  returning  with  the  money,  unhappy,  and  full  of  rage  at 
his  misfortunes,  that  were  the  work  of  the  Count,  angry 
with  him  too,  and  calculating  what  he  owed  to  him — more 
than  one  winter's  quarters  in  Fano,  for  instance,  as  well  as 
food  and  provender  for  a  good  part  of  his  troops — remember- 
ing also  that  he  himself  needed  a  large  sum  immediately  if 
he  were  to  continue  the  campaign,  Sigismondo  sent  not  one 
soldo  of  what  he  had  received  from  Venice  to  the  Count, 
but  he  kept  it  all.  How  fatal  this  action  proved  to  all  his 
hopes  soon  began  to  appear,  for  the  Count,  who  had  already 
entrusted  what  had  been  paid  to  him  by  Florence  to  Ciar- 
pellone  and  other  Captains,  was  reduced  almost  to  beggary. 
Yet,  as  it  proved,  it  was  not  convenient  for  him  at  that 
moment  to  come  to  an  open  rupture  with  Sigismondo,  for 
Piccinino,  well  furnished  with  money  both  by  Aragon  and 
the  Pope,  was  on  the  point  of  continuing  the  campaign.  But 
on  account  of  Sigismondo's  action  he  was  compelled  for  a 
time  to  remain  in  Fermo  between  the  army  of  the  king 
newly  come  into  the  field  and  that  of  the  Pope  commanded 
by  Piccinino.  And  indeed  no  way  was  open  to  him,  save 
the  sea,  by  which  to  receive  either  food  or  ammunition.  At 
last  Ciarpellone  came  to  his  rescue  with  much  astuteness,  for 
he  led  what  troops  he  had  up  and  down  the  March,  attacking 
first  one  place  and  then  another,  now  here  now  there,  con- 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 


131 


fusing  the  enemy,  who  were  compelled  to  remove  from 
Fermo  to  defend  the  places  that  seemed  in  danger  from  him. 
At  length  the  Count,  able  now  to  leave  the  city,  ordered 
Sigismondo  with  all  his  troops,  even  those  in  Fano,  to  take 
ip  a  position  between  Osimo  and  Recanati,  and  at  the  same 
time  he  sent  Ciarpellone  with  his  companies  thither  also, 
and  promised  to  join  them  there  himself.  But  just  at  this 
time — to  wit,  9th  June — the  truce  between  Sigismondo  and 
Pesaro  and  Urbino  expired ;  and  Matteo  Griffone,  a  captain 
of  Urbino,  fell  upon  Montelabbate  and  La  Tomba,  and  took 
them.  Therefore  Sigismondo,  forgetting  the  Count,  took  all 
his  troops,  both  horse  and  foot,  with  many  Ericcole^  Bombarde, 
and  Mantelette — and  many  of  these  were  of  his  own  inven- 
tion— and  fell  upon  La  Tomba,  which  had  surrendered  almost 
without  fighting  to  Griffone,  who  soon  yielded  the  place  on 
receiving  a  promise  of  his  own  life  and  those  of  his  men. 
This  done  with,  Sigismondo  thought  he  could  safely  turn  to 
help  the  Count,  and  the  more  so  for  that  Leonello  of  Ferrara, 
who  had  lately  married  the  daughter  of  Aragon,  and  was 
Sigismondo's  friend,  had  arranged  already  a  truce  of  six 
months  between  us  and  Urbino,  for  it  seemed  to  him  that 
Galeazzo  of  Pesaro  was  helpless  without  Federigo's  help. 
Therefore,  without  delay,  on  2oth  June  he  marched  towards 
Sinigaglia  to  the  Count's  assistance,  to  whom  he  sent  saying 
that  he  would  come  as  far  as  he  could,  but  that  Piccinino 
stood  between  them  with  his  army.  Ciarpellone,  being 
informed  of  this  message,  sent  to  Sigismondo,  and  bade  him 
wait  till  he  arrived,  so  that  they  might  march  together;  but 
while  he  waited  the  troops  of  Pesaro  began  to  harry  our 
villages  near  to  Rimini,  and  some  of  their  galleys  preyed  on 
our  merchandise  before  the  port,  but  these  we  soon  captured 
with  the  Count's  assistance.  Nevertheless,  hostilities  were 
renewed  with  Pesaro ;  and  Ciarpellone  still  delaying,  and 
Sigismondo  himself  being  ill,  he  returned  to  Rimini  in  July, 


132  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

having,  as  he  thought  and  declared,  wasted  a  month  again  for 
Sforza's  sake. 

Truly  these  two  men  could  not  be  friends;  for  while 
Sforza  was  patient  and  cautious,  Sigismondo  was  impetuous, 
brave  even  to  foolishness,  and  so  restless  that  a  day  of  idle- 
ness was  unbearable  to  him.  Thus  it  is  not  surprising,  even 
though  there  had  been  no  other  cause,  and  that  there  was, 
that  Sigismondo  was  angered  with  Sforza,  and  Sforza  was 
furious  with  Sigismondo.  For,  seeing  what  he  had  done, 
how  that  not  once,  nor  twice,  he  had  left  him  to  fight  his 
own  battles,  and  at  last  had  retired  to  Rimini,  and  moreover, 
thinking  that  the  interposition  of  Leonello  d'Este  on  his 
behalf  and  their  friendship  (since  Leonello  was  the  son-in-law 
of  Aragon)  pointed  to  some  agreement  between  Sigismondo 
and  the  Pope  and  Aragon,  Sforza,  as  is  said,  went  so  far  as 
to  accuse  our  Lord  of  deserting  him ;  but  this  came  not  to 
Sigismondo's  ears.  Now  whether  he  who  had  wasted  more 
than  two  years  in  Sforza's  quarrel,  had  put  in  danger  his 
whole  dominion,  and  had  quarrelled  with  the  Pope  and 
Aragon,  and  suffered  excommunication  for  his  sake,  could 
rightly  be  accused  of  lack  of  devotion  in  a  cause  that  after 
all  was  not  his  own,  I  leave  to  the  judgment  of  posterity. 
The  truth  is  that  Sigismondo  in  fighting  Sforza's  battle  had 
neglected  his  own,  and  at  this  time  certainly  his  own  do- 
minions imperiously  demanded  his  attention  ;  for  Oddantonio 
being  at  last  killed  by  his  subjects,  Federigo,  that  boaster, 
our  great  enemy,  who  has  ever  continued  to  make  men  take 
him  at  his  own  value,  was  proclaimed  Duke,  their  county 
having  become  a  Dukedom  by  the  Pope's  leave  during 
Oddantonio's  lifetime,  as  a  reward  for  their  labours  against 
Sforza  and  ourselves. 

I  know  not  well  how  to  speak  of  Federigo,  who  in  every- 
thing was  Sigismondo's  rival,  and  in  that  I  find  his  only  claim 
to  be  of  the  blood  of  the  Malatesti.  He  boasted  he  had 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  133 

never  lost  a  battle ;  yet  that  was  later,  when  good  fortune  had 
Jed  him  to  forget  the  stripes  of  Sigismondo.  Yet,  with  all 
his  ugliness  and  high  words,  he  was  a  great  man  too,  for  he 
loved  learning  and  fathered  it,  nor  do  I  think  any  lord  in 
Italy,  save  Lorenzo  de'  Medici,  had  so  fine  a  Library  or  a 
court  so  little  barbarous.  Indeed,  the  thing  that  I  have 
understood  least  of  all  those  I  have  encountered  in  my  life  is 
that  three  such  men  as  Sigismondo,  Sforza,  and  Federigo  of 
Urbino,  were  not  able  to  sink  their  paltry  differences  and  to 
weld  Italy  into  one  nation ;  nor  can  1  explain  how  it  is  that 
this  idea,  which  seems  to  me  the  worthiest  of  all,  should 
never  have  occurred  to  them. 

Now  the  Pesarese  were  restless,  for  Galeazzo,  the  coward, 
as  I  have  often  known  to  be  the  case  with  such,  driven  into 
a  corner,  and  unable  to  escape,  was  become  almost  a  brave 
man,  or  at  least  a  desperate  one.  He  therefore  began  to 
attack  our  castles,  and  even  to  take  one  or  two ;  and  this  I 
think  he  was  bold  to  do,  supported  in  his  heart  by  the  ex- 
communication of  Sigismondo;  for  such  men  are  ever  super- 
stitious, and  depend  more  on  a  priest's  word  than  on  the 
reasons  of  a  philosopher  or  the  art  of  a  general.  And  at 
last,  venturing  into  the  territory  of  Fano,  he  thought  to 
attack  that  city,  when  Odoardo  de'  Michelotti,  one  of  Sforza's 
Captains,  came  to  our  aid ;  but  Sigismondo  trusted  him  not, 
being  aware  of  the  anger  of  the  Count  against  him,  therefore 
he  sent  forth  an  embassy  begging  Michelotti  to  come  no 
farther;  but  he  encamped  on  our  side  Metauro,  so  that  it 
was  thought  best  to  show  our  trust  in  him. 

It  was  just  at  this  time  that  the  Duke  of  Milan,  perhaps 
wishing  to  show  his  friendship  for  his  son-in-law,  sent  for 
Piccinino  to  come  to  Milan,  who,  not  to  be  unfaithful  to 
Aragon  and  the  Pope,  left  Francesco,  his  son,  to  command  in 
the  March.  Sforza,  hearing  of  this,  immediately  prepared  to 
take  advantage  of  it.  Quitting  Fermo  with  all  his  starving 


134 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 


troops,  telling  them  that  now  was  their  last  chance  of  wealth 
and  victory,  he  went  to  Monte  dell'  Olmo,  where  he  found 
Francesco  Piccinino,  and  fell  upon  him  with  so  much  fury 
and  force  that  he  drove  him  across  the  plains  with  a  loss  of 
some  three  thousand  horse,  and  pursuing,  took  him  prisoner — 
Cardinal  Domenico  Capranica,  the  Pope's  legate,  and  Novello 
Malatesta  escaping  by  the  skin  of  their  teeth.  This  great 
victory  did  in  one  day  what  more  than  two  years'  fighting 
had  not  been  able  to  accomplish,  for  almost  the  whole  March 
returned  into  the  possession  of  Sforza,  and  the  Pope  was 
easily  persuaded  to  listen  to  proposals  for  peace.  Nor  was 
this  all ;  for  Piccinino,  who  had  only  gone  to  Milan  reluct- 
antly, and  after  much  persuasion,  being  an  old  man,  and 
unable  to  bear  this  disgrace  and  misfortune,  died  heart-broken 
on  hearing  the  news  on  25th  October.  And  with  his  death 
there  seemed  to  be  left  in  Italy  no  captain  who  had  the  ex- 
perience and  genius  necessary  to  meet  Francesco  Sforza. 

Ah !  but  not  so  happily  did  the  year  end  for  Sigismondo. 
Going  to  congratulate  his  father-in-law  in  Fermo,  and  to 
explain  too  the  disloyalty  with  which,  now  that  Sforza  was 
victorious,  many  did  not  hesitate  to  charge  our  Lord — not 
only  was  his  explanation  refused,  but  when  he  offered  his 
services  he  saw  preferred  before  him  Federigo  of  Urbino, 
who  was  anxious  to  take  service  with  the  Count.  With  what 
bitterness  he  returned  to  Rimini,  with  what  anger  and  fury  I 
will  not  describe ;  but  the  heaviest  blow  was  still  to  come : 
for  when  Galeazzo  of  Pesaro  saw  that  the  Count  and  the 
Duke  were  furious,  fearing  that  either  Urbino  with  Sforza's 
help  and  encouragement,  or  Sigismondo  without  it,  would  seize 
Pesaro  by  force,  he  sold  that  city  and  Fossombrone  to  Sforza, 
who  gave  Pesaro  to  Alessandro,  his  brother,  and  again  sold 
Fossombrone  for  thirteen  thousand  florins  to  Federigo,  our 
enemy.  Thus  Sigismondo  lost  Pesaro,  that  city  on  which  his 
heart  was  set. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  135 


.  .  .  You  conceive  the  character  and  spirit  of  Sigismondo 
altogether  amiss  if  you  should  think  that  even  in  the  midst 
of  the  misfortunes  that  had  fallen  upon  his  whole  dominion  he 
was  the  man  to  remain  quiet  under  these  insults,  or  to  suffer 
the  disloyalty  and  contempt  of  Sforza  and  Federigo  without 
a  blow  for  his  own  honour. 

It  was  the  middle  of  February  when  we  heard  in  Rimini 
that  Sforza  had  sold  Fossombrone  to  Federigo,  and  with  that 
news  in  his  heart  Sigismondo  determined  on  some  revenge ; 
for  he  looked  on  Federigo  as  the  cause  and  source  of  his 
undoing,  and  as  he  had  ever  hated  that  interloper,  so  now  he 
thought  to  rid  himself  once  for  all  of  a  proclaimed  enemy. 
For  dangerously,  illogically  too  as  I  cannot  but  think,  he 
dreamed  that  his  brother  Novello,  having  married  Violante, 
the  legitimate  daughter  of  Guidantonio,  had  a  better  right 
than  Federigo,  the  bastard  son  of  the  Covlnt,  to  the  lordship 
of  Urbino,  forgetting  that  he  too  was  illegitimate,  and  had 
indeed  no  better  right  to  Rimini  than  Federigo  to  Urbino. 
And  it  may  be  too  that  it  was  a  knowledge  of  this  claim  of 
the  Malatesti  to  Urbino  that  had  raised  up  Federigo  as  their 
implacable  foe.  But  then,  as  Sigismondo  reminded  himself, 
this  bastard  claimed  wrongly  and  impudently  to  be  of  the 
blood  of  the  Malatesti,  and  had  at  last  possessed  himself  of 
Fossombrone,  a  city  not  long  since  in  their  dominion,  buying 
it  with  money  from  Sforza  the  Fox ;  and  by  his  intervention 
also  Pesaro  was  lost  for  ever.  All  this  and  more  being  in 
his  heart,  on  2 1  st  February  he  sent  Giovanni  da  Sassoferrato, 
at  that  time  his  chancellor,  to  Federigo  of  Urbino  with  the 
following  challenge,  hoping  thus,  as  I  have  said,  to  rid 
himself  for  ever  of  one  he  hated  with  all  his  heart ; — 


136  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

To  the  Lord  Federigo  of  Montefeltro,  Captain-General  of  the 
illustrious  Count  Francesco  Sforza 

MIGHTY  LORD, — Your  Lordship  is  not  ignorant  of  the 
differences  which  have  long  existed  between  us,  and  if  you 
judge  rightly,  you  will  perceive  that  the  right  is  on  my  side. 
Patience  is  no  virtue  of  mine,  and  it  seems  also  that  you  are 
not  disposed  to  amend  your  ways :  on  the  contrary  every  day 
you  multiply  your  injuries.  Lately  you  have  written  against 
me  to  the  Court  of  Rome,  defaming  and  calumniating  me.  I 
am  determined  to  support  this  no  longer  but  to  show  you  that 
I  am  a  better  man  than  yourself,  for  indeed  you  are  a  traitor 
and  have  done  wrong  to  outrage  me  thus.  I  therefore  send 
to  you  Giovanni  da  Sassoferrato,  my  chancellor,  with  full 
authority  to  challenge  you  to  a  duel.  By  your  former  letter 
you  have  already  declared  yourself  as  willing  to  accept :  and 
although  Giovanni  holds  my  public  challenge  I  wished  to 
write  this  private  letter  as  more  sure,  praying  you  not  to 
change.  If  you  are  the  brave  man  you  claim  to  be,  I  require 
you  to  send  me  one  of  your  familiars  who  may  be  informed 
of  your  intentions,  of  the  time,  of  the  manner,  of  the  place, 
where  we  shall  meet  and  under  what  conditions.  I  ask  also 
that  we  may  agree  as  to  the  place  to  be  chosen.  He  whom 
you  send  should  come  with  four  horses,  his  life  shall  be 
secured  and  my  letter  will  serve  him  as  safe  conduct  for  his 
advent  and  return.  In  case  you  should  not  accept  my 
challenge  which  I  do  not  believe,  I  warn  you  that  I  shall 
proceed  against  you  in  any  way  that  seems  good  to  me. 

SIGISMUNDUS  PANDULPHUS  DE  MALATESTIS. 

Rimini,  XXI  February  1445. 

But  all  this  came  to  nothing,  partly  because  a  place  of 
meeting  could  not  be  agreed  upon  (though  Federigo  boasted 
that  he  went  to  Pesaro,  and  awaited  Sigismondo  under  the 
walls  of  that  city,  but  he  came  not — yet  even  Federigo  can 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  137 


hardly  have  thought  our  Lord  so  great  a  fool  as  to  meet  him 
there),  partly  because  Sforza,  coming  to  hear  of  the  affair, 
forced  them  to  be  friends,  confirming  Sigismondo  in  the 
possession  of  the  Castle  of  Gradara,  and  of  Monteluro, 
Granarolo  and  Pozzo  in  the  Pesarese ;  and  a  treaty  to  this 
effect  was  signed  on  i4th  March. 

Now  our  Lord  was  not  alone  in  his  rage  at  the  perfidy 
of  Sforza;  for,  on  the  one  hand,  the  Pope  was  angered 
at  the  disposal  of  Pesaro  and  Fossombrone  without  his 
leave,  and,  on  the  other,  the  Duke  of  Milan  began  to 
fear  that,  Piccinino  being  dead,  his  son-in-law  would  dom- 
inate the  Dukedom.  On  this  account  then  before  long 
a  new  league  was  formed  between  the  Pope  and  the  Duke 
to  curb  the  Count's  ambition  and,  if  it  were  found  possible, 
to  spoil  him  of  those  cities  which  he  had  acquired  in  the 
States  of  the  Church.  Nor  was  Sigismondo  slow  to  forward 
this  agreement,  nor  to  accept  the  Captain-Generalship  of 
the  forces  of  the  Church  when  no  long  time  after  it  was 
offered  to  him.  Yet  he  was  not  content,  for  while  himself 
in  the  Rocca  of  Gradara,  on  the  day  after  Alessandro  Sforza 
had  taken  possession  of  Pesaro — which  was  bitter  gall  to 
him — he  sent  to  Antonio  Albertone,  bidding  him  to  go 
to  Alfonso  of  Aragon  to  ask  for  his  support,  and  at  the 
same  time  he  sent  Benvenuto  de  Forte  to  the  Duke,  and 
four  days  later  Giovanni  da  Sassoferrato  to  the  Pope.  Thus 
Sigismondo  raised  up  foes  against  Sforza  and  Federigo.  At 
first  fortune  was  still  against  him ;  for  Sforza,  urged  thereto 
by  Urbino,  drove  the  Malatesti  out  of  the  March,  wisely 
clearing  his  way  of  retreat,  in  case  in  the  war  Sigismondo 
was  about  to  force  on  him  he  were  not  successful.  Having 
accomplished  his  purpose  he  encamped  on  the  Foglia,  near 
Montelabatte,  with  some  four  thousand  men,  and,  having 
given  over  this  army  to  Federigo,  set  out  himself  for 
Florence,  to  get  money  from  that  Commune  or  from  his 


138  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

friend,  Cosimo  de'  Medici.  And  when  he  returned  he  began 
to  raid  the  country  about  Rimini  and  about  Fano,  which  was 
for  the  most  part  at  his  mercy,  since  Sigismondo  was  almost 
without  forces,  for  the  Pope's  troops  were  not  yet  arrived, 
nor  the  Duke's  neither.  At  length  a  few  companies  came 
to  Rimini,  sent  by  Alfonso,  and  with  these  Novello  went  out 
against  Sforza;  but  the  Count  still  had  the  advantage,  so 
that  we  found  it  necessary  to  abandon  our  castles  in  the 
Pesarese  in  order  to  regain  our  own  around  Rimini.  And 
all  this  time,  for  already  the  season  was  well  advanced, 
Sigismondo  continued  to  urge  the  Pope  to  send  his  troops, 
lest  the  enemy  should  strengthen  himself  in  those  places  he 
had  taken ;  but  the  Pope  was  slow  to  do  that,  for  he  was 
not  long  returned  to  Rome  after  nine  years  and  more  of  exile. 
In  those  days  we  rejoiced  in  Rimini  in  spite  of  our 
\  misfortunes,  for  Bartolomeo  de'  Malatesti  entered  the  city 
i  as  Bishop  on  i8th  August;  and  then,  a  few  days  later, 
some  troops  arrived  from  the  Pope,  and  Sigismondo  led 
them  to  Fano ;  but  still  we  were  too  weak  to  face  Sforza. 
Then  Sigismondo  determined  to  go  to  the  Abruzzi  to 
see  the  King,  and  himself  to  urge  the  necessity  of  sending 
us  troops.  He  set  out  on  5th  September  in  a  light  galley, 
escorted  by  a  galley  of  war,  commanded  by  Bernardo 
Villamarino,  and,  as  we  heard,  arrived  safely,  and  was  much 
honoured  by  the  King,  who  thought  so  well  of  him  that 
he  gave  him  the  pick  of  his  army,  and  sent  him  back 
with  many  squadrons.  Without  losing  a  day  Sigismondo 
gathered  all  his  troops  (there  went  with  him  every  man 
he  had),  and  encamped  at  Osimo,  whence  the  Count  had 
his  provender ;  and  at  the  same  time  the  galleys  of  Aragon 
cut  off  his  provisions  by  sea,  so  that  he  could  receive 
nothing  save  by  way  of  Tuscany — the  great,  and,  as  it  was 
thought,  impregnable  fortress  of  Rocca  Contrada  protecting 
him  on  that  side. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  139 

Our  time  had  come  at  last,  for  there  befell  this  mar- 
vellous thing:  with  a  daring  only  equalled  by  his  genius, 
Sigismondo,  in  what  wonderful  way  I  know  not  (though 
often  I  have  had  the  tale  from  Gaspare  Broglio,  who  was 
there),  took  Rocca  Contrada  by  assault  on  the  i5th  October; 
and  by  this  victory,  which  filled  Italy  with  astonishment, 
he  rendered  the  March  no  longer  secure  for  Sforza.  Then 
on  the  i  yth  Sigismondo  seized  Cassero  also,  so  that  the 
Count,  finding  himself  beaten  at  last,  realising  his  danger, 
retreated  in  haste  towards  Urbino,  encamping  some  three 
miles  from  that  city,  at  Fermignano;  but  before  he  could 
move  Sassoferrato  had  fallen,  and  by  the  end  of  November 
all  the  March  was  in  our  power;  and  in  Fermo  itself  we 
hunted  Alessandro  like  a  hare  round  and  round  the  city. 

Then,  the  season  being  wintry,  the  armies  went  into 
quarters — Sforza,  with  Madonna  Bianca,  his  wife,  going  to 
Pesaro,  while  Sigismondo,  master  of  La  Marca,  returned 
to  Rimini  on  2  9th  of  November. 


XII 

THAT  winter  in  Rimini  was  indeed  one  long  festival,  for  our 
Lord  had  delivered  us  out  of  the  hands  of  the  enemy,  from 
the  jaws  of  the  wolf,  from  the  cunning  of  the  fox.  He  came 
home  in  triumph — the  whole  city  going  out  to  meet  him,  sing- 
ing his  songs — for  he  rode  into  Rimini  with  Madonna  Isotta 
beside  him,  his  standards  unfurled,  on  which  was  emblazoned 
her  name  with  his.  And  indeed  she  was  the  prize  of  his 
victory,  for  till  then  he  had  loved  her  in  vain. 

How  may  I  hope  to  describe  this  lady,  whom  he  loved 
above  every  other  woman,  "  Sopra  ogni  altra  da  lui  amata  " 
as  they  sang,  and  whom  I  too  have  loved,  not  for  his  sake 
alone  ?  She  was  not  beautiful  as  the  men  of  our  time  count 
beauty :  her  face  was  rather  harmonious  than  lovely,  her 
aspect  thoughtful,  and  even  a  little  pensive,  yet  full  of  a 
sort  of  energy.  But  her  body,  like  a  jewel  hid  in  a  pierced 
casket,  subtly  expressed  in  the  dress  of  that  time,  was  of  a 
singular  beauty,  that,  as  I  think,  none  looking  upon  her 
might  ever  forget,  that  even  an  old  scholar  like  myself,  with 
after  all  but  little  aptitude  for  love,  can  only  remember  with 
uneasiness  and  delight.  Such,  I  have  sometimes  thought, 
must  have  been  the  strange  beauty  of  Helen,  that  burnt 
Troy ;  such  the  singular  loveliness  of  Persephone,  that  drove 
Hades  to  that  rape  among  the  flowers ;  such  too  perhaps  the 
mysterious  maddening  delight  of  her  from  whom  our  Isotta 
had  her  name — I  mean  that  lady  through  whom  Tristram  came 
by  his  death.  And  just  there  lies  another  thought :  for  there 
is  something  fatal  in  those  who  possess  this  excellent  beauty, 
and,  as  it  seems,  something  unfortunate  in  store  for  those 

140 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  141 

who  are  entangled  by  it.  Certainly  there  was  poison  in  the 
honey  of  Helen's  mouth,  and  the  cold,  sweet  lips  of  Perse- 
phone have  sucked  the  dear  life  from  all  men  born;  the 
arms  of  Queen  Cleopatra  hanged  Prince  Antony,  and 
Tristram  died  of  the  kisses  of  Iseult.  Ah !  was  there  too 
in  the  sweet,  lithe  body  of  Madonna  Isotta  something  of 
that  old  poison  that  our  Mother  Eve  ate  with  the  serpent's 
apple  ?  .  .  .  However  that  may  be,  certainly  Isotta  had  been 
hard  to  win ;  it  was  not  easily  that  she  became  his  Dama. 
For  she  was  of  a  noble  family,  and  that  forbade  her ;  she 
was  prudent,  wise,  stable,  and  of  an  honest  soul,  and  that 
forbade  her  too ;  but  she  loved  Sigismondo,  and  she  too  was 
a  poet.1  Are  these  excuses  that  I  am  forcing  myself  to  make 
for  one  in  whom  I  can  discern  no  wrong,  whom  I  have  ever 
honoured  and  been  glad  to  serve  ?  Ah  !  no,  not  excuses,  but 
perhaps  a  word  in  explanation  of  this  which  befell ;  for 
Francesco  degli  Atti,  her  father,  who  blamed  her  much  for 
this  unlawful  love,  and  would  not  forgive  her,  and  treated 
her  harshly ;  and  it  may  be  a  little  for  Madonna  Polissena, 
who  was  sorry  therefore,  and  never  understood,  as  we  have 
been  assured,  that  true  love  between  those  who  have  been 
married  together  is  impossible ;  for  whereas  lovers  grant  to 
each  other  favours  freely,  and  not  of  necessity,  married 
people  are  bound  to  obey  each  other's  wishes,  and  can  refuse 
nothing  the  one  to  the  other. 

There  were  other  things  too,  besides  Sigismondo's  delight 
in  possessing  Isotta  at  last,  that  made  that  winter  joyful  and 
brilliant  in  Rimini ;  for  in  the  autumn,  Messer  Vittore  Pisano, 
the  painter  and  medallist,  at  that  time  in  the  service  of  the 
Marchese  Leonello  d'Este,  for  whom  he  made  some  surpris- 
ing things,  hearing  of  the  Rocca  which  Sigismondo  was 
building  in  Rimini,  and  being  curious  of  all  curious  things, 

1  Cf.  two  curious  poems  by  Porcellio  Napoletano,  in  which  Isotta  excuses 
herself  to  her  father,  and  is  rebuked  by  him. 


142  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

came  to  us  from  Ferrara,  and  almost  at  the  same  time,  by 
chance,  Sigismondo  came  also  to  Rimini  for  a  few  days. 
He  took  much  pleasure  in  the  beautiful  things  Messer  Vittore 
brought  with  him ;  but  at  the  time,  being  busy  with  the 
war,  yet  wishing  to  possess  something  from  the  hand  of  that 
most  famous  man,  he  begged  him  to  make  a  medal,  the  which 
he  might  give  to  Madonna  Isotta,  and  that  she  might  see  in 
whose  cause  he  was  fighting,  and  for  what  prize,  he  bade 
Messer  Vittore  carve  a  rose  there,  for,  as  he  said,  she  was  the 
Rose  of  roses.  Messer  Vittore  set  to  work,  and  before  long 
had  made,  as  I  have  thought,  his  masterpiece ;  and  indeed  he 
did  his  best,  and  took  infinite  trouble,  as  I  can  testify,  for  he 
loved  Sigismondo  well.  The  medal  he  made  at  that  time 
is  the  one  in  which  there  is  a  bust  of  Sigismondo  in  chain 
armour,  on  his  breast  lies  the  Rose,  and  the  legend  round 
this  side  of  the  medal  runs,  SIGISMUNDUS  PANDULPHUS  DE 
MALATESTIS  ARiMiNi  FANi  D,  and  on  either  side  of  the  D, 
which  stands  for  DOMINUS,  is  a  rose.  On  the  other  side 
you  may  see  our  Lord  in  full  plate  armour  over  mail;  he 
stands  just  about  to  draw  his  sword  (as  he  was)  between 
two  rose-trees,  on  one  of  which  hangs  a  shield  surmounted 
by  a  rose,  on  which  the  S  of  Sigismondo  enfolds  the  I  of 
Isotta;  on  the  other  stands  his  elephant's  head,  most  beauti- 
fully carved;  while  at  the  base  of  the  medal  you  read,  OPUS 
PISANI  PICTORIS. 

When  Messer  Vittore  had  finished  his  work  and  cast  it, 
by  Sigismondo's  order,  I  took  it  to  Madonna  Isotta,  who 
found  it  beautiful. 

Now  when  Sigismondo  returned  again  to  Rimini  in 
November,  after  the  victory  of  Rocca  Contrada,  being  glad 
at  the  beauty  of  Messer  Vittore's  work,  he  bade  him  cast 
another  medal  to  immortalise  that  victory,  the  which  he  did. 
On  one  side,  as  before,  he  made  the  likeness  of  Sigismondo, 
and  around  is  set  this  legend,  SIGISMUNDUS  DE  MALATESTIS 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  143 

ARIMINI    ET  ROMANE  ECCLESIE   CAPITANEUS    GENERALIS,    and 

on  the  other  our  Lord  on  horseback  (his  harness  bearing  the 
rose,  for  the  Rose  was  the  prize  of  the  victory)  making  the 
signal  for  the  fight  to  cease,  for  the  Rocca,  which  is  in  the 
background,  already  bears  his  shield  (as  in  the  former  medal)  ; 
while  over  the  gate  of  the  castle  is  set  the  date  MCCCCXLV, 
and  around  the  base  of  the  medal  you  read,  OPUS  PISANI 
PICTORIS. 


Now,  in  spite  of  his  victories,  our  Lord  was  not  content, 
nor  altogether  secure,  as  he  thought,  for  he  feared  lest  the 
allies  should  be  as  slow  to  enter  on  the  campaign  in  the 
coming  spring  as  they  had  been  in  the  past.  Therefore  on 
the  1 2th  December  he  set  out  for  Rome  to  explain  to 
Eugenius  what  he  had  in  view.  He  was  very  honourably 
received  by  the  Pope  and  the  College  of  Cardinals ;  while 
with  his  own  hand  Eugenius  presented  him,  as  the  successful 
defender  of  the  Church,  with  a  sword  and  a  helmet  blessed 
by  His  Holiness;  and,  as  we  heard,  no  Prince  for  a  long 
time  had  been  so  honourably  received  in  Rome. 

On  our  Lord's  return  he  brought  with  him  Messer 
Roberto  Valturio,  the  engineer,  whose  family  had  for  genera- 
tions served  the  Lords  of  Rimini,  in  whose  city  Messer 
Roberto  also  had  been  born,  but  having  a  relation  in  the 
Pope's  service  he  had  early  left  Rimini  for  Rome,  and  had 
remained  away  from  his  native  city  till  Sigismondo,  finding 
him  in  the  Court  of  the  Pope,  and  hearing  he  was  willing  to 
enter  his  service,  had  begged  him  of  the  Pope,  and  brought 
him  along  with  him ;  for  the  wonder  of  the  Rocca  had  gone 
through  Italy,  and  such  a  man  as  Messer  Roberto  was  as 
curious  to  see  it  as  any. 


144  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

However,  at  this  time  Sigismondo  was  but  little  in 
Rimini,  for  no  sooner  was  he  returned  from  Rome  than  he 
set  out  for  Milan  on  2nd  February,  for  the  Duke  earnestly 
desired  to  talk  with  him;  and  he  remained  in  that  city  for 
some  weeks,  only  returning  to  Rimini  on  i9th  March.  In 
the  meantime  we  in  Rimini  had  heard  rumours  of  Federigo's 
doings — to  wit,  how  that  he  plotted  to  get  possession  of  Fano, 
and,  word  of  this  coming  also  to  Alfonso,  he  sent  men  thither 
to  encourage  the  citizens  in  their  loyalty  to  us,  declaring 
Sigismondo  under  his  protection.  And  Sigismondo  hearing 
of  it  sent  Bartolomeo  dei  Malatesti,  Bishop  of  Rimini,  to  Rome 
as  his  ambassador,  at  the  same  time  himself  quitting  Rimini  to 
join  Cardinal  Scarampo  in  La  Marca.  And  as  a  result  of  Barto- 
lomeo's  mission,  on  Holy  Thursday,  i4th  April,  the  Pope 
excommunicated  the  Sforzas,  Federigo  of  Urbino,  and 
Galeazzo  Malatesta  of  Pesaro  for  disposing  of  that  city 
and  of  Fossombrone  without  leave  of  the  Holy  See. 

Now  all  Sforza' s  strength  lay  in  the  money  the  Florentines 
lent  him,  for  without  it  he  would  not  have  been  able  to 
continue  the  war;  and  the  Pope  knowing  this,  when  we 
urged  him  to  send  us  men  and  money,  in  his  turn  urged 
Alfonso  to  carry  the  war  into  Tuscany.  Sforza  when  he 
heard  of  it  promised  to  pass  into  the  Dukedom  of  Spoleto,  and 
even  to  Rome  itself ;  for  he  had  friends  even  in  the  Cardinal's 
College,  so  that  the  Pope  was  compelled  to  go  carefully. 
We  too  were  anxious,  for  if  the  Pope  came  to  some  discreet 
agreement  with  Sforza  we  found  we  should  be  compelled  to 
meet  him  single-handed,  for  Aragon  would  do  nothing  to  help 
us,  as  we  heard,  since  the  Pope  had  refused  him  leave  to  tax 
the  clergy  to  get  money  for  the  war.  For  these  and  certain 
other  reasons  Sigismondo  thought  he  ought  to  suspect  the 
Pope,  and  therefore  he  determined  to  send  Messer  Gaspare 
Broglio  to  Rome  to  discover,  if  it  were  possible,  the  real  dis- 
position of  His  Holiness  towards  us.  Broglio  learnt  from 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  145 

lem  that  at  all  costs  the  Pope  was  determined  to  maintain 
lis  state.  Yet  Sigismondo  was  not  easy  in  his  mind,  for  he 
-ondered  where  he  should  find  men  and  money,  seeing  that 
lone  came  from  the  Church  and  Alfonso's  army  was  already 
lalf  starving  and  disposed  to  treat  with  Sforza.  And  for 
this  cause  he  often  contemplated  an  acceptance  of  the  truce 
Jforza  had  asked  him  for  so  often.  Broglio,  however,  was 
opposed  to  this,  for,  as  he  said,  if  it  suited  him  the  Count  would 
not  observe  the  agreement,  and  he  would  certainly  use  it  to 
set  the  Pope  against  Sigismondo.  He  therefore  urged  our 
Lord  to  make  a  truce,  which  would  allow  him  to  pass  into  the 
March  to  defend  the  lands  of  the  Church,  for  such  an  agree- 
ment, though  certainly  no  honour  would  attach  to  it,  yet  in 
the  circumstances  it  might  easily  be  excused,  and  would  not 
be  so  displeasing  to  the  Pope,  who  would  hear  of  it  from 
Sigismondo  before  the  Count  published  it,  and  would  see 
that  Sigismondo  had  done  what  he  could  to  defend  him. 
Broglio's  advice  pleased  Sigismondo,  and  he  determined  to 
follow  it;  and  to  show  his  gratitude  he  appointed  Messer 
Gaspare  as  his  vicar  in  Fano,  while  he  himself,  hanging  on 
Sforza's  flank  with  an  army  of  a  thousand  men,  followed  him 
into  the  Dukedom  of  Spoleto,  where  Sforza,  though  he  was 
six  thousand  strong,  finding  himself  opposed  by  the- troops  of 
the  Pope  and  an  army  of  King  Alfonso's,  was  obliged  to 
retreat  somewhat  hastily ;  and  Sigismondo  was  able  to  make 
this  as  difficult  as  possible.  In  his  retreat,  however,  Sforza 
took  the  Castle  of  Isola  Gualteresca,  near  Fossombrone,  but 
Sigismondo  following  him  took  in  exchange  Corinaldo  and 
Castelnuovo ;  and  hearing  that  Ancona,  to  please  the  Count, 
had  made  an  agreement  with  Venice  and  Florence,  he  fell 
upon  it,  and  compelled  it  to  return  to  the  Pope's  obedience. 
Then  on  1 6th  July,  drawing  near  to  La  Pergola,  which  Sforza 
had  given  to  Federigo,  it  surrendered,  as  did  Monte  Ghirardo 
and  the  territory  of  Cagli ;  then  advancing  into  the  Dukedom 


146  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

of  Urbino  he  took  Talacchio  and  Colbordolo,  and  so  harassed 
the  Count  that,  fearing  lest  worse  might  befall  him  he  retired 
again  to  Fermignano,  three  miles  from  Urbino,  having  ac- 
complished nothing,  but  rather  lost  more  than  before. 

But  Sigismondo  was  not  yet  finished,  for  in  the  meantime 
reinforcements  had  reached  him,  therefore  on  the  2jrd  of 
July,  with  some  six  hundred  horse  and  foot,  he  prepared  at 
last  to  attack  Pesaro,  where  Alessandro  Sforza  had  taken 
refuge  when  Fermo  fell ;  but  because  of  the  agreement  he 
had  made  with  Sforza  he  sent  the  viceroy  of  Naples  and 
Giacomo  da  Irano  thither,  he  himself  fighting  still  before 
Urbino,  when  the  city  itself  would  have  fallen  into  his  hands 
had  not  his  negotiations  with  the  citizens  been  discovered. 
Yet  he  ever  kept  his  eyes  on  Pesaro,  for  he  thought,  if 
Alessandro  were  driven  out,  the  Pope  would  give  him  that 
city  for  his  services,  and  to  bring  this  about  he  went  so  far 
as  to  promise  the  investiture  to  Alessandro  if  he  would  join 
the  Church.  He,  being  hard  pressed,  consented,  and  on  the 
29th  July  entered  the  camp  with  his  troops,  presenting  the 
Cardinal  Legate  with  many  exquisite  sweetmeats.  We,  on 
our  side,  had  traitors  too,  for  Furlano  was  found  to  be  in 
the  pay  of  the  Florentines,  and  for  this  was  taken  to  Rocca 
Contrada  and  beheaded. 

By  this  time  the  Count  had  made  an  attempt  on  Fossom- 
brone,  but,  finding  Sigismondo  ever  at  his  heels,  managed  to 
retreat  by  night  to  Fermignano  once  more  ;  and  Monte  Fabbri 
falling  to  Sigismondo,  and  the  army  of  the  Church  being 
now  some  fifteen  thousand  strong,  there  was  no  place  left  for 
Sforza  to  rest  in  save  Urbino  itself ;  therefore,  all  the  month 
of  August,  Sigismondo  made  war  on  that  place,  but  though 
some  places  by  force,  and  others  by  agreement,  fell  into  his 
hands,  he  did  not  take  the  city.  He  was  back  again  in 
Rimini  on  i2th  September  to  receive  Luigi,  the  Patriarch, 
Legate  of  the  Pope,  who  was  returned  from  Rome;  and 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 


147 


Sigismondo  received  him  with  every  sort  of  splendour — the 
Bishop,  Clergy,  and  people  going  to  the  gates  to  meet  him, 
and  to  conduct  him  to  the  house  of  the  Roelli  in  the  Conta- 
do  di  S.  Croce,  which  Sigismondo  no  longer  used,  for  the 
locca  was  finished. 

These  festivities  were,  however,  interrupted  by  rumours 
of  the  arrival  of  reinforcements  for  Sforza,  so  that  Sigis- 
londo,  hearing  that  Monteluro  was  besieged,  and  knowing 
that  Broglio  was  there  with  but  seventy  men,  set  out  im- 
mediately. When  Federigo  heard  of  his  arrival  he  sent 
him  a  challenge,  but  Sigismondo,  remembering  that  his  own 
had  come  to  nothing,  answered  the  Duke  that,  had  he  been 
Captain-General  of  Sforza's  army,  he  could  not  have  refused 
him,  but  that,  since  he  was  not,  while  he  himself  was  in 
command  for  the  Church,  he  would  not  meet  him,  as  his 
own  death  would  leave  the  army  without  a  leader.  Never- 
theless, he  hoped  that  in  the  battle  they  might  meet,  that 
he  himself  was  ever  in  the  van,  and  if  Federigo  sought  him 
he  could  easily  find  him  there.  In  the  meantime  Broglio 
and  his  men,  being  hard  pressed,  and  having  held  Monteluro 
for  six  days,  seeing  that  the  inhabitants  of  that  place  were 
negotiating  with  the  enemy,  found  themselves  compelled  to 
surrender,  which  they  did,  not  without  difficulty  saving  their 
lives,  for  Sforza  was  desperate. 

Yet  about  this  time  we  had  good  news,  for  we  all  heard 
that  the  Milanese  had  been  defeated  by  the  Venetians ;  and 
Sforza  in  particular  was  glad  to  hear  this,  for  he  knew  that 
thus  Cremona  was  safe,  and  at  the  same  time  he  expected 
that  the  Duke,  being  in  trouble  in  that  quarter,  would 
before  long  come  to  agreement  with  him.  Thus  the  war 
here  began  to  languish,  for,  now  that  the  end  seemed  to  be 
in  sight,  and  Sforza  began  to  turn  his  gaze  more  and  more 
on  the  Dukedom,  the  Patriarch  was  shy  of  losing  in  one 
day  of  misfortune  what  had  been  gained  so  hardly — to  wit, 


148  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

the  March.  Therefore  Sigismondo  before  the  nth  of 
October  returned  to  Rimini;  while  the  army  went  into 
quarters  among  the  hills  at  Covignano  and  other  places,  the 
Patriarch  going  to  Russi.  But  the  war  was  not  finished  yet, 
for  on  1 7th  October  we  heard  that  the  Count,  having  dis- 
solved the  truce  with  Sigismondo,  was  attacking  Gradara, 
hoping  to  take  it  for  his  brother,  who  expected  to  hold 
Pesaro;  but  Sigismondo  had  foreseen  this  move,  and  had 
already  garrisoned  the  fortress  with  his  best  soldiers.  Never- 
theless, he  went  thither  at  once,  and  all  day  on  horseback 
he,  without  ceasing,  encouraged  the  defenders,  turning  back 
with  his  troops  every  attempt  of  the  enemy,  and  introducing 
food  and  reinforcements  when  he  could.  And  thus  the 
siege  continued  for  forty  days ;  while  the  Count  grew  more 
and  more  furious  that  the  best  of  his  own  troops  and  of  the 
Urbinese  were  unable  to  take  that  place  from  Sigismondo, 
who  was  alone,  since  the  Papal  troops  were  already  in 
winter  quarters.  Then  was  seen  the  genius  of  our  Lord, 
for  he  had  placed  bombarde  and  brlccole  in  the  fortress,  which 
ceased  not,  night  and  day,  to  throw  great  stones  into  the 
enemy's  camp,  and  to  confuse  them  utterly.  But  again 
affairs  in  Milan  interfered,  for  the  Duke  appealed  to  the 
Pope  to  make  peace  between  him  and  Sforza,  so  that  the 
Dukedom  might  not  be  left  to  the  mercy  of  the  Venetians ; 
and  the  Count  was  disposed  that  way  too. 

Now  Sigismondo  knew  how  to  draw  advantage  from  all 
this.  He  sent  Nicolo  di  Benzo  to  Lombardy  with  troops,  so 
that  the  Count,  seeing  how  things  were  going,  might  cease 
to  make  war  on  him.  And  the  Duke,  seeing  his  advantage, 
wrote  to  Sforza,  saying  he  could  not  think  him  sincere  in 
his  wish  to  help  him  so  long  as  his  war  with  us  prevented 
Sigismondo  coming  to  Lombardy  with  his  own  troops  and 
those  of  the  King.  If,  however,  he  would  raise  the  siege  of 
Gradara,  he,  on  his  part,  would  enter  into  negotiations  with 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  149 

him  for  a  complete  reconciliation.  The  Count,  seeing  that 
he  was  only  likely  to  do  himself  harm  by  continuing  the 
siege,  and  because  the  winter  was  already  come,  and  the 
weather  very  severe,  so  that  the  campaign  became  every  day 
more  difficult,  raised  his  camp,  and  on  the  27th  November, 
with  his  wife,  Madonna  Bianca,  went  to  join  Alessandro  in 
Pesaro;  and  Sigismondo  let  him  go. 

The  fear  of  losing  Gradara  having  been  taken  from  him 
Sigismondo  immediately  got  ready  to  go  to  Lombardy, 
whither  the  Duke  was  urging  him  to  come  with  all  speed. 
And  after  eight  days  he  set  out  in  the  company  of  the 
Viceroy  of  Naples  Cesare  Martinengo,  Giacomo  da  Santo 
Gemini,  and  other  captains,  with  their  gay  and  splendid 
troops  and  the  greater  part  of  his  own  men ;  but  when  he 
arrived  winter  had  already  checked  the  Venetians. 

Every  sort  of  honour  was  lavished  on  Sigismondo  by  the 
Duke,  who,  wishing  to  humiliate  Sforza,  as  Sigismondo  saw, 
as  much  as  to  obtain  the  services  of  our  Lord,  offered  the 
generalship  of  his  troops  to  Sigismondo.  But  he,  who  had 
only  sought  to  bring  about  the  reconciliation  of  the  Duke 
and  Sforza  in  order  to  free  himself  from  a  dangerous  enemy, 
would  not  accept  this  honour,  fearing  the  jealousy  of  Sforza, 
but  instead  agreed  to  return  to  Romagna  to  push  on  the 
negotiations,  so  that  Sforza  himself  might  go  to  Lombardy. 

It  was  the  end  of  January  when,  with  only  fifty  horsemen, 
he  left  Milan  for  Rimini. 


XIII 

Now,  by  what  means  I  know  not  (but  the  means  matter  little), 
Astorge  Manfred!  of  Russi,  a  friend  of  Federigo's,  a  man 
with  the  soul  of  a  cat,  who  hated  Sigismondo  as  vainly  as  he 
hoped  for  salvation,  heard  that  our  Lord  with  but  fifty  men 
would  pass  not  far  from  his  city,  and  thinking  it  safe  enough 
to  attack  fifty,  and  they  weary,  for  the  ways  were  bad  and 
the  weather  wintry,  determined  to  take  Sigismondo  prisoner, 
and  to  make  sure  of  him  he  kept  watch,  and  when  our  Lord 
had  passed  into  his  territory  he  closed  the  passes,  and  going 
out  himself  with  his  well-armed  cut-throats,  a  hundred  and 
one  strong,  he  awaited  Sigismondo  and  his  company  in  hiding 
near  the  Castle.  But  many  things  that  had  befallen  that  day 
had  set  our  Lord  on  his  guard ;  for  one,  his  horse  had  gone 
lame;  for  another,  a  friar  had  forborne  to  curse  him  when  re  fused 
an  alms,  saying  that  would  be  accounted  for ;  for  a  third,  his 
secretary  had  told  him  of  a  battle  of  magpies  and  jackdaws. 
Therefore,  suspecting  some  evil  chance,  when  he  rode  into 
the  signoria  of  Manfredi,  whose  hate  he  knew,  he  ordered 
his  men  to  ride  so  that  only  four  went  in  front  while  all  the 
rest  followed  in  a  body,  save  two  who  remained  with  him 
a  good  way  behind. 

Now  when  the  four  first  came  by  the  place  where 
Astorge  lay  in  wait  they  were  stopped  by  eight  men 
a-horseback,  who  inquired  where  their  Lord  might  be;  and 
they  answered  he  was  coming  up  close  behind  them,  so  they 
passed  on;  but,  when  the  main  body  came  up,  a  hundred 
men  armed,  with  Astorge  among  them,  sprang  out  upon  the 
company,  thinking  indeed  that  Sigismondo  was  there.  But 

150 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  151 

Sigismondo,  hearing  the  noise  of  the  fight,  for  our  men  were 
not  sleeping,  nor,  as  I  know,  slow  to  anger,  he  knew  that 
a  snare  had  indeed  been  set  for  him,  and  that  to  advance  or 
retreat  with  the  passes  closed  (and  that  struck  him  on  the 
instant)  would  be  in  vain. 

Now  hard  by  was  a  marsh  surrounded  by  a  thick  wood, 
and  since  with  him  to  think  was  to  act  he  plunged  in  there, 
and  dismounting  abandoned  his  horse,  threw  off  his  cuirass 
and  all  his  heavy  harness,  and,  in  scanty  dress,  waded  through 
tho  bog,  seeing  no  other  way  of  safety. 

By  this  time  Astorge  had  managed  to  take  the  greater 
part  of  our  men  prisoners,  and  seeing  that  Sigismondo  was 
not  among  them,  nor  dead  by  the  wayside  neither,  he 
ordered  his  men  with  the  dogs  to  pass  through  the  marsh, 
so  that  they  hunted  after  Sigismondo  as  though  he  were  a 
wolf  or  a  wild  boar.  But  he,  hearing  the  barking  of 
the  dogs,  hid  himself  under  water  up  to  his  head,  and 
remained. thus  for  an  hour,  when,  night  falling  and  all  being 
silent,  he  dragged  himself,  not  without  difficulty,  to  dry  land. 
Meanwhile  Manfredi,  disappointed,  apologising  for  what  had 
happened,  let  his  prisoners  go  free,  and  returned  to  his 
Russi. 

When  it  was  quite  dark  Sigismondo,  arguing  that 
Astorge  would  not  wish  to  pass  a  night  in  the  open  at  that 
season,  came  out  of  the  wood,  and  understanding  the  move- 
ments of  the  stars  (and  I  thank  Madonna  of  Trivio  that  I 
taught  him  the  art),  reasoned  from  these  whither  he  could 
turn  for  safe  refuge.  So,  leaving  those  puddles,  with  great 
difficulty  he  came  at  last  to  Ravennate ;  and  seeing  a  house 
where  a  little  light  was  burning  he  knocked  there,  and 
found  a  poor  peasant,  who,  with  his  wife  and  daughters  busy 
spinning,  was  passing  the  long  night  watching  over  a  fire  of 
a  few  logs.  Having  come  in  among  them,  in  order  not  to 
excite  suspicion  by  his  appearance  at  that  time  of  the  night, 


152  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

his  foul  dress,  and  bare  feet,  he  told  them  he  was  a  prisoner 
who  by  great  fortune  had  escaped  from  the  Signore  of 
Rimini,  and  begged  them  for  the  love  of  God  to  show  him 
the  way  that  very  night  to  Bagnacavallo,  or  some  other  place 
of  the  Marchese  of  Ferrara,  for  on  his  arrival  he  hoped  to 
reward  him  for  his  services  better  perhaps  than  he  thought. 
The  peasant,  partly  touched  by  his  entreaties,  partly  enticed 
by  this  promise,  at  last  brought  him  to  a  place,  where  lived 
Signor  Miliade,  a  brother  of  the  Marchese.  As  soon  as  this 
gentleman  saw  him  he  recognised  him,  and,  bringing  him  into 
his  home,  kept  him  with  him  some  days,  so  that  he  might 
recover  from  his  sufferings;  then  having  rewarded  the 
peasant,  and  given  our  Lord  armour,  a  horse,  and  servants, 
and  all  else  that  he  needed,  he  bade  him  good-bye,  bidding 
Count  Luigi  del  Verme  accompany  him  to  the  border  of  the 
state,  so  that  on  yth  February  Sigismondo  came  home  to 
Rimini. 

How  can  I  tell  our  delight  at  seeing  him  again?  For 
indeed  all  the  city  thought  him  dead,  save  Madonna  Isotta, 
and  she  believed  him  alive  only  because  she  dared  not  think 
otherwise. 

And  having  seen  Francesco  Sforza,  and  received  for  the 
Duke  his  promise  to  go  to  Lombardy  with  his  army  in  the 
spring,  Sigismondo,  convinced  of  his  sincerity,  returned  to 
Milan.  About  the  time  of  his  departure  the  articles  of 
peace  between  the  Count,  the  Lord  of  Pesaro,  and  Federigo 
on  the  one  part  and  Sigismondo  and  Novello  on  the  other, 
were  signed  in  Rimini;  and  before  the  middle  of  March 
Sigismondo,  having  promised  the  Duke  Sforza's  service,  led 
back  his  own  troops  from  Lombardy,  and,  coming  to  Rimini, 
published  the  peace  that  he  had  signed  with  Sforza  and 
Federigo. 


XIV 

A  NATURE  like  that  of  Sigismondo,  containing  in  itself,  as  I 
have  said,  both  something  of  the  spirit  of  an  age  that  save  in 
such  country  places  as  Rimini  is  almost  passed  away,  and  some- 
thing too  of  the  intellectual  energy  that  is  characteristic  of 
our  own  time,  could  not  be  wholly  content  with  fighting, 
however  successful  he  might  be.  There  were  instincts 
wholly,  or  almost  wholly,  physical  in  his  nature  it  is  true,  but 
that  intellectual  activity  that  was  at  least  as  much  his  own 
could  not  for  ever  be  satisfied  with  the  making  of  a  few 
indifferent  verses  to  Madonna  Isotta,  or  the  random  meeting 
with  some  old  scholar  who,  on  his  way  may  be  from  Byzantium 
to  Venice,  Florence,  or  Rome,  passed  by  chance  through 
Rimini.  The  advent  of  Messer  Vittore  Pisano  just  before 
the  fall  of  Rocca  Contrada,  the  delight  our  Lord  found  not 
only  in  his  almost  miraculous  art,  but  in  his  conversation,  in 
the  mere  presence  of  one  who  seemed  to  have  stamped  the 
very  world  about  him,  the  life  that  eddied  round  him  with 
the  impress  of  his  style,  stimulated  in  Sigismondo  a  desire 
that,  since  his  first  visit  to  Florence  had  never  wholly 
passed  away,  to  surround  himself  with  scholars  and  artists, 
to  pass  such  time  as  he  could  spare  from  political  business  in 
their  company,  and  through  them,  and  through  the  poets  that 
little  by  little  he  was  gathering  about  him,  to  immortalise 
himself  and  his  deeds,  that  without  them,  as  he  knew,  in 
spite  of  their  splendour,  must  assuredly  pass  away.  For  it 
was  one  of  the  most  characteristic  traits  in  Sigismondo's 
character  to  believe  that  his  deeds  were  worthy  of  immor- 
tality ;  nor  was  this  extraordinary  preoccupation  with  himself 


154  SIGISMONDO    MALATESTA 

wholly  without  charm  or  strange  at  that  time.  Had  not 
Marchese  Leonello  employed  Messer  Vittore  Pisano  con- 
tinually to  carve  his  image,  not  once  nor  twice  but  many 
times  ?  And  then  there  was  so  much  to  say  ! 

So  when  at  length  Messer  Vittore  betook  himself  to 
Ferrara  by  way  of  Mantua,  the  Marchese  Leonello,  being 
impatient  lest  he  should  stay  with  us  too  long,  at  the  earnest 
request  of  Sigismondo,  who  saw  he  must  let  the  Master  go, 
he  promised  to  send  us  a  kind  of  pupil  or  follower  of  his, 
Messer  Matteo  da  Pasti,  who,  if  we  wished  it,  as  he  said, 
would  remain  with  us,  and  devote  himself  wholly  to  our 
affairs ;  and  indeed  not  long  after  he  came  to  us. 

Among  that  crowd  of  poets,  painters,  engineers,  doctors, 
and  quacks  who  presently  were  to  be  found  at  our  court, 
there  were  many  who  were  mere  adventurers,  a  sort  of 
wandering  pedlars  who  display  their  wares  at  every  street 
corner  and  content  only  the  foolish.  Messer  Matteo  was 
not  among  these,  for  he  was  a  good  artist,  full  of  versatility, 
but  without  the  genius  of  Messer  Vittore ;  nor  may  I  count 
as  a  quack  or  an  adventurer  Messer  Valturio,  my  friend,  who 
loved  the  art  of  war  and  the  engines  thereof;  nor  Messer 
Basinio  of  Parma  neither,  who,  though  he  sang  not  so  well 
as  Virgil,  yet  was  a  man  full  of  humanity,  who  loved 
Sigismondo  well;  but  there  were  others  who  made  Rimini 
gay  enough  but  added  nothing  to  our  reputation.  Now 
long  since  Sigismondo  had  taken  the  measure  of  these 
cuckoos,  and  though  he  liked  to  have  a  crowd  about  him 
they  deceived  him  not ;  for  if  that  immortality  he  desired,  so 
nobly  as  I  think  (for  indeed  glory  is  the  one  thing  left  to  us 
that  is  not  altogether  material),  depended  upon  them,  then 
indeed  he  was  most  mortal,  and  oblivion  threatened  him  as 
a  cloud  threatens  the  sun,  leaving  no  trace  of  its  shining 
splendour. 

Talking  with  me  somewhat  in  this  strain  one  day,  just 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  155 

before  Messer  Vittore  departed,  himself  too  on  the  eve  of 
departure,  a  little  sorry  to  go,  and  altogether  sad  at  the 
departure  of  the  medallist,  something  that  1  let  fall  in  our 
conversation  brought  Messer  Leon  Alberti  to  his  mind,  that 
marvellous,  sweet,  and  grave  nature  that  had  so  captured  his 
imagination  years  ago  in  Florence,  and  turning  to  me  suddenly 
he  said :  "  If  I  could  bring  Leon  Battista  here  I  would  build 
the  church  I  vowed  to  our  Lord  not  long  ago  in  battle." 
And  I,  eager  too  to  know  more  of  that  strange  modern 
philosopher,  encouraged  him  in  this,  so  that  he  wrote  at  once 
to  Florence  before  he  set  out,  for  he  was  to  depart  on  the 
next  day,  and  bade  me  send  him  word  what  answer  Messer 
Leon  Battista  sent  him. 

No  long  time  after,  a  little  weary  of  those  indefatigable 
poets  who  clustered  round  Madonna  Isotta,  who  was  herself 
a  better  poet  than  any  among  them,  and  wearier  still  of 
the  fantastic  courtiers  who  besieged  Madonna  Polissena, 
made  love  to  her  ladies,  quarrelled  with  the  poets,  lived  on 
our  Lord,  and  abused  his  servants,  I  had  gone  one  morning 
along  the  Via  Aemilia,  and  after  a  time,  leaving  the  highway, 
had  climbed  a  little  hill  for  the  sake  of  the  view.  What  a 
tempest  there  had  been  not  three  days  ago !  You  might 
have  thought  the  world  was  about  to  end,  so  terrible  was  the 
lightning,  so  furious  the  rain ;  and  now,  after  so  small  an 
interval,  had  come  a  serenity  of  weather  that  had  lasted  till 
that  day. 

Thinking  much  concerning  this  miracle,  for  how  much 
wider  is  the  whole  circle  of  Heaven  than  1  know,  than  I 
can  express,  on  my  way  homeward  towards  sunset  I  came 
to  a  little  house  by  the  highway  where  a  woman  was  hush- 
ing her  child  to  sleep  in  her  arms.  Taken  with  the  faint 
music  of  her  song  1  stood  a  little  way  off  to  listen,  for 
indeed  in  such  a  common  sight  as  that  I  have  learned  to  find 
a  sort  of  parable  of  life,  a  secret,  which,  rightly  understood, 


156  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

holds,  though  hidden,  the  whole,  and  more  than  the  whole,  of 
our  philosophy.  The  song  she  sang  was  an  old  one,  such 
as  humble  people  know,  but  not  the  less  sweet  on  that 
account,  and  indeed  in  the  fading  beauty  of  the  evening  the 
words  seemed  to  gather  a  new  meaning  from  the  mere 
humanity  of  that  homely  scene  that  all  the  painters  have  so 
loved — a  mother  hushing  to  sleep  her  little  son. 

Softly  in  the  clear  evening  air  the  words  came  to  me, 
bringing  I  know  not  what  remembrance  of  things  I  have 
perhaps  overlooked  or  forgotten  too  soon : 

"  DiJ  Maria  dolce,  con  quanto  disio 
Miravi  '1  tuo  figluol  Cristo  mio  Dio. 

Quando  tu  il  partoristi  senza  pena 
La  prima  cosa,  credo,  che  facesti, 
Si  1'adorasti,  O  di  grazia  piena, 
Poi  sopra  il  fieri  nel  presepio  il  ponesti ; 
Con  pochi  e  pover  panni  lo  involgesti 
Maravigliando  e  godendo,  cred'io. 

O  quanto  gaudio  avevi  e  quanto  bene 
Quando  tu  lo  tenevi  nelle  braccia ! 
Dillo,  Maria,  che  forse  si  conviene 
Che  un  poco,  per  pieta  mi  satisfaccia  : 
Baciavil  tu  allora  nella  faccia, 
Si  ben  credo,  e  dicevi :   O  figliuol  mio  ! l 

1  "  Tell  me,  sweet  Mary,  with  what  longing 
Didst  thou  behold  thy  son  Christ  my  God. 

When  thou  brought'st  him  forth  without  pain, 
The  first  thing,  I  think,  that  thou  didst, 
May  be,  was  to  worship  him,  O  full  of  grace, 
Then  on  the  hay  in  the  manger  thou  laid'st  him, 
In  few  and  poor  clothes  thou  folded'st  him, 
Marvelling  and  rejoicing,  I  think. 

0  how  glad  thou  wast,  and  how  happy, 
When  thou  held'st  him  in  thine  arms  ! 
Tell  me,  Mary,  what,  may  be,  thou  mayest, 
That  thou  mayest  satisfy  me  a  little  for  pity : 
Thou  kissedst  him  then, 

1  think  indeed,  and  said  :   f  O  my  little  son  !  ' 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  157 

Quando  un  poco  talora  il  dl  dormiva, 
E  tu  destar  volendo  il  Paradise 
Pian,  pian  andavi,  che  non  ti  sentiva, 
E  la  tua  bocca  ponevi  al  suo  viso  ; 
E  poi  dicevi  con  materno  riso  : 
— Non  dormir  piil  che  ti  sarebbe  rio. 

Ma  nulla  ho  detto,  e  tutto  e  una  frasca.   .  .   ."  l 


Suddenly  I  was  aware  that  someone  had  come  up  on  the 
grass  by  the  wayside  behind  me,  and  was  listening  too.  It 
was  a  figure  of  a  grave  almost  a  weary  beauty  that  met  my 
gaze  when,  for  all  the  tears  were  in  my  eyes,  I  turned  and 
recognised  Messer  Leon  Battista  Alberti  himself,  who,  lead- 
ing his  horse  by  the  bridle,  had  thus  found  me,  and  now 
laid  his  hand,  already  full  of  flowers,  on  my  shoulder,  and 
gave  me  greeting. 

"  So  you  too  are  fond  of  country  music,"  said  he,  smiling, 
"and  for  once  at  least  have  allowed  yourself  to  be  really 
moved  by  such  a  homely  thing.  Well,  well,  I  have  found  a 
companion."  Then  more  gravely  he  added  :  "  But  they  are 
rogues,  these  peasants,  rogues  and  cheats.  Messer  Vespasiano 
Bisticci  was  not  far  wrong  when  he  said  there  were  two 
species  of  men  difficult  to  bear  with  on  account  of  their 
ignorance — to  wit,  servants  and  peasants.  Signore,  I  am  a 
landowner — it  is  my  fate  ;  for,  on  the  one  hand,  my  health 
forces  me  to  live  often  in  the  country ;  and,  on  the  other, 
I  love  everything  that  grows  there  save  the  peasants,  and  I 

1  When  sometimes  by  day  he  slept  a  little, 
Thou,  waking,  wishing  to  have  again  thy  Paradise 
Softly,  softly  came,  that  he  should  not  hear  thee, 
And  placed  thy  mouth  on  his  cheek, 
And  said  then  with  a  mother's  smile : 
'  To  sleep  no  longer  that  would  be  bad  for  thee.' 

But  I  have  said  nothing,  and  all  is  a  tale.  .  .   ." 


158  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

cannot  well  tell  you  what  I  have  suffered  at  their  hands. 
But  I  tire  you,"  he  continued,  looking  around.  "  Where  is 
your  horse  ?  I  promise  to  complain  no  more  if  you  will  give 
me  your  company  to  Rimini." 

Then  I  told  him  I  was  afoot,  and  he  answered :  "  I 
foresee,  sir,  that  we  shall  be  friends,  for  we  have  the  same 
tastes.  I  have  met  no  other  in  my  life  who  cared  to  walk 
abroad  when  he  might  ride — save  myself,"  he  added  softly, 
"save  myself." 

"  But,"  I  said,  "  you  too  with  the  rest  then  think  of  the 
peasants  as  barbarians,  or  at  best  fit  only  to  form  the  back- 
ground to  a  fantastic  love  tale  in  the  manner  so  much  in 
fashion " 

"  Signore,"  said  he,  interrupting  me,  "  they  are  worse  than 
barbarians ;  for  you  may  overcome  the  barbarian,  but  who 
shall  cope  with  a  peasant  ?  Yet  truly  I  have  heard  ours  in 
Italy  lead  a  better  and  more  human  life  than  those  of  other 
countries."  And  without  waiting  for  a  reply  he  added : 
"  Let  us  go  on  towards  the  city,  for  indeed  the  evening  is 
sweet,  and  I  shall  be  glad  of  your  company."  So  we  went 
on  together,  he  leading  the  horse. 

"You  may  well  believe  that  our  contadini  are  more 
fortunate  than  those  of  other  countries,"  said  I,  for  I  thought 
him  too  hard  on  people  I  have  ever  found  simple  and  honest 
as  men  go.  "  In  Germany,  where  I  was  some  years  since,  I 
found  the  peasant  a  slave,  starved  by  his  master,  crippled  by 
toil  in  that  brutish  earth,  a  wretched  and  God-forsaken  serf 
calling  upon  death  to  free  him  from  his  misery ;  while  his 
wife,  not  like  our  contadine  with  their  boxes  of  trinkets, 
their  Sunday  damask,  their  proud  and  yet  homely  ways,  was 
a  mere  female  beast,  half  woman  half  brute,  more  grotesque 
than  her  husband.  In  the  evenings  by  the  vague  roads  you 
might  see  her  surrounded  by  her  brats,  crouching  like  a 
witch  over  a  poor  fire,  on  which  was  a  pot  boiling,  in  the 


SIGTSMONDO   MALATESTA  159 

mud  hovel  that  is  her  home.  Yet  even  from  these  people 
utterly  debased  and  broken  I  have  received  kindness." 

"  Ah  !  you  know  not  our  Tuscan  rogues,"  he  said,  smiling 
at  me ;  "  for  with  us  if  one  would  be  happy  in  the 
country  it  is  best  not  to  traffic  with  them  at  all,  or,  since 
that  is  impossible  in  Tuscany,  to  deal  only  with  a  few 
families." 

"But  why  should  it  be  impossible  in  Tuscany  if  it  be 
possible  here  ? "  I  asked. 

"  For  this  cause,"  said  he,  "that  in  that  marvellous  country 
all  things  grow  together,  and  the  system  of  farming  is  such 
that  the  landowner  dwells  in  his  farm  with  the  contadino, 
who  cultives  the  soil  and  as  wages  takes  a  portion  of  that 
which  his  labours  have  produced.  And  I  call  it  a  marvellous 
country,  because,  as  you  know,  to  grow  good  wine  hills  are 
necessary,  and  a  place  full  of  sunshine  too.  To  grow  grain 
to  perfection  you  want  an  open  plain,  a  soft,  a  light  soil ; 
while  the  best  wood  is  only  to  be  found  in  stony  and  rough 
ground,  and  hay  in  a  land  that  is  sweet  and  moist." 

"  And  do  you  find  all  this  in  Tuscany  ? "  I  asked. 

"  How  many  other  places  there  may  be  in  that  country 
I  know  not,"  he  answered  somewhat  sadly ;  "  but  I  often 
remind  myself  of  our  poderi  close  to  Florence,  those  of 
Messer  Benedetto,  of  Messer  Nicolino,  of  Messer  Cipriano, 
of  Messer  Antonio,  and  others  of  my  family — places  full  of 
nimble  air,  in  a  laughing  country  of  sweet  and  lovely  views, 
where  there  is  always  fresh  water  and  everything  is  healthy 
and  pure ;  for  there  are  no  fogs  there,  and  seldom  cold  or 
violent  winds.  .  .  .  But  let  me  not  speak  of  these,  let  me  not 
remind  myself  of  the  magnificence  of  the  Alberti,  for  it  is 
forgotten,  and  some  of  those  farms,  as  though  in  sorrow,  de- 
siring the  old  padrone,  have  gone  to  ruin."  He  was  silent 
for  a  time,  lost  in  thought. 

Then  I,  to  relieve  him  of  his  sadness  and  the  remembrance 


160  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

of  the  ruin  of  his  family,  besought  him  to  tell  me  more  of 
these  rascal  peasants  he  spoke  of  and  their  ways. 

"  It  might  seem  incredible,"  said  he  after  a  minute,  "  how 
one  growing  up  among  the  clods  should  be  so  cunning  a 
rogue ;  yet  so  it  is,  for  he  is  able  to  deceive  a  lawyer. 
Always  he  will  cheat  thee  in  some  way  or  other.  First, 
he  will  wish  you  to  buy  him  oxen,  goats,  and  pigs,  then  a 
mare,  or  again  sheep.  Next,  he  will  come  to  you,  whining 
that  his  creditors  are  about  to  destroy  him,  and  you  must 
satisfy  them ;  then  you  must  dress  his  wife,  who  is  not  fit 
to  be  seen,  or  give  dowries  to  his  daughters,  whom  other- 
wise he  cannot  marry.  He  is  worse  than  a  poor  relation, 
for  presently  he  will  demand  that  you  set  his  cottage  in 
order,  or  rebuild  the  podere,  or  buy  him  new  tools  or 
furniture.  Above  all,  he  is  always  grumbling,  and  when 
he  prospers  (as  he  often  does)  more  than  his  padrone  he 
still  complains,  and  will  swear  he  is  a  poor  man,  always  in 
want  of  something,  nor  will  he  prevent  you  going  to  any 
unnecessary  expense  or  trouble.  If  the  crops  are  abundant 
he  reaps  the  two  best  parts  for  himself;  if  through  bad 
weather  or  some  other  cause  the  year  is  sterile  you  will 
bear  all  the  damage  and  loss  :  thus  of  good  things  he  always 
has  the  best,  while  the  evil  falls  all  to  you." 

"  What  is  it  then,"  I  asked,  "  that  you  find  so  sweet  in 
the  country,  since  those  who  live  there  appear  to  you  so 
despicable  and  wearisome  ? " 

He  was  silent  for  a  moment,  while  a  bird  sang  not  far 
away,  then  turning  to  me : 

"  It  is  the  country  itself  that  I  love,"  he  said — "  the  true 
business  of  the  country,  the  walk  through  the  olive  gardens 
to  the  farm,  the  management  and  even  the  buying  of  the 
cattle,  the  sowing  and  reaping  of  the  grain,  the  joy  of  taking 
up  great  handfuls  of  it  as  though  one  were  indeed  a  judge 
of  its  worth — the  delight  of  all  that !  Then  one  may  watch 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  161 


the  seasons  there  as  never  in  a  city,  and  understand  in  some 
dim  way  the  life  of  plants  and  trees,  those  consoling  things 
that  some  have  thought  of  as  dead  and  silent,  but  whose 
voices  you  may  hear,  if  you  will,  even  on  the  stillest  day,  or 
laughing  in  the  wind,  or  whispering  together  in  fear  at  the 
approach  of  the  storm,  or  shrill  with  agony  in  the  tempest. 
And  with  these  I  shall  ever  claim  brotherhood,  for  I  seem  to 
understand  that  in  some  sort  they  are  even  as  I  am,  so  that 
looking  on  the  autumn  fields  ready  for  harvest,  or  the  flowers 
in  spring,  I  have  found  myself  in  tears,  I  know  not  rightly 
why,  save  that  I  recognise  that  I  too  am  sprung  from  this 
same  earth  and  shall  return  to  it  again." 

He  was  silent  again ;  and  then,  seeing  I  heard  him  gladly, 
he  began  to  speak  of  the  refinement,  comeliness,  and  joy  of 
life  in  the  country  with  one's  family ;  the  business  of  teaching 
children  and  young  people  the  names  and  natures  of  various 
animals,  flowers,  and  trees;  the  music  of  the  country  too, 
those  strange  love  songs  that  the  girls  might  learn  for  the 
lute,  and  that  he  thought  might  well  be  caught  up  into  a 
nosegay  of  verses  to  make  a  fair  poem.  Then  the  books 
that  should  be  read  there,  in  the  sweet  leisure — Greek 
and  Latin  writers  too  difficult  amid  the  distractions  of  town ; 
the  delight  of  the  cool  house  in  the  heat  while  the  fountains 
splash  in  the  court,  and  the  bees  murmur  together  in  the 
shade,  and  the  great  green  beetles  sleep  in  the  white  lilies, 
and  the  cicala  chatters  among  the  olives  and  corn. 

Yes,  certainly  it  was  a  sort  of  physical  delight  one  found 
in  all  that,  a  delight  that,  as  I  told  him,  it  may  be  only  a 
townsman  could  have  discovered  there.  But  I  caught  a 
lesson  from  what  was  then  said,  of  tranquillity  of  life ;  for 
in  the  villa  you  might  find  all  useful,  honest,  and  reasonable 
things,  and  even  the  cunning  of  the  peasant  might  be  useful 
to  you,  for  thereby  you  would  be  taught  to  bear  with  men, 
and  so  brought  into  closer  contact  with  your  fellows.  Then 


162  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

into  what  a  courtesy  it  brought  you  with  yourself:  the 
infinite  solace  of  lawns,  flowers,  odours,  songs  that  are 
always  glad,  filling  you  with  hope ;  and  if  this  is  so  in  spring 
or  summer,  in  winter  you  may  find  sun  there  when  the  city 
is  dismal  perhaps ;  nor  with  the  falling  leaf  does  she  cease  to 
be  liberal,  for  she  sends  you  wood  for  a  fire,  and  thus  gives 
you  unknowing  all  the  delights  of  winter ;  the  hours  by  the 
fireside,  when  you  may  have  her  junipers  and  laurels  for 
a  blaze  and  a  sweet  odour  since  the  snow  and  wind  have 
driven  you  indoors. 

That  conversation,  so  informal,  so  light-hearted,  so  full 
of  humorous  complaint,  resolved  itself  at  last  into  praise 
of  country  life :  the  quiet  of  all  that,  with  its  airy,  pure,  frank 
days,  with  beautiful  things  always  near  you — the  wooded 
hills  for  instance,  the  green  valley,  the  clear  and  cool 
fountains,  the  laughing  streams  that  run  by  gamboling 
and  losing  themselves  among  the  tufts  of  grass,  the  rocks 
and  undergrowth,  all  day  long  in  the  summer  heat — the 
mere  delight  amid  such  familiar  scenes  and  sounds  of 
reading  difficult  or  beautiful  books,  or  of  watching  children 
at  play,  or  the  girls  at  work  in  the  fields,  the  young  men 
in  the  vineyards.  Certainly  it  was  with  an  impression  in 
my  mind  of  the  necessity,  the  beauty  of  an  orderly  and 
frank  life  amid  such  things,  the  refreshment  that  the  soul 
might  gather  from  them,  that  our  conversation  came  to 
end  as  we  entered  the  city  at  last,  later  than  we  had 
thought,  finding  the  gates  shut,  so  that,  as  though  to  con- 
firm all  that  Messer  Battista  had  said,  we  found  it  necessary 
to  turn  out  the  guard  that  we  might  go  to  our  house. 


XV 


DURING  the  days  which  followed  before  the  return  of 
>igismondo  I  spent  much  time  in  Messer  Battista's  com- 
pany, coming  at  last  to  love  one  who,  I  had  in  some  way 
divined,  was  full  of  distinction  and  of  a  noble  and  fine  heart, 
even  from  the  first.  And  at  last,  in  those  long  rambles  in 
the  country  which  delighted  him  so  much,  in  conversation 
that  lasted  sometimes  far  into  the  night,  gradually  little  by 
little,  with  infinite  difficulty,  I  learned  something  of  the 
story  of  his  life,  that  unfortunate  and  yet  consoling  tale 
which  later  I  wrote  down  for  the  delight  of  Sigismondo. 
For  little  by  little,  as  I  say,  I  became  aware  that  this  subtle, 
grave,  and,  as  it  were,  universal  spirit  must  have  been  ever 
the  first  among  the  young  men  of  his  age,  that  even  from 
his  youth  he  had  mastered  all  things,  which  become  one  of 
noble  birth,  of  a  rare  and  liberal  education.  For  in  those 
days  as  now  he  was  fond  of  horses,  of  the  use  of  arms  and 
instruments  of  music ;  he  devoted  himself  eagerly  to  letters, 
to  the  study  and  practice  of  the  arts  too ;  nor  was  there  any- 
thing rare  and  difficult  that  he  did  not  seek  to  master  almost 
with  a  sort  of  fury,  till  by  study  and  meditation  he  learned 
all  those  things  by  which  praise  is  won.  To  name  but  two 
among  them,  in  modelling  and  painting  he  was  tireless, 
wishing  to  gain  the  good  opinion  of  the  wise  in  such 
matters ;  and  then  his  natural  wit  was  such  that,  as  I  know,  he 
may  be  said  to  have  mastered  all  the  arts.  Neither  ease  nor 
idleness  could  affect  him.  And  when  he  had  once  given 
himself  to  anything  he  knew  not  weariness.  Ah  !  how  often 
I  have  heard  him  say  that  the  summit  of  all  human  delight 
163 


164  S1GISMONDO   MALATESTA 

is  to  be  found  in  literature.  And  indeed  he  so  rejoiced  in 
it  that  neither  hunger  nor  sleep  could  separate  him  from 
books,  which  were  to  him  as  buds  of  sweet-smelling  flowers. 
And  such  was  his  eagerness  that  I  have  heard  the  letters 
would  cluster  like  scorpions  under  his  eyes  till  at  last  he 
could  read  no  more.  So  when  he  was  thus  weary  he  would 
fly  to  music  or  painting  or  physical  exercise,  and  they 
would  restore  him.  He  would  play  pal/a,  or  run  or  wrestle 
or  dance,  or  throw  the  dart,  but  all  these  he  did  rather 
for  his  health's  sake  than  for  pleasure  or  solace,  yet  he 
has  told  me  above  all  he  loved  to  climb  difficult  moun- 
tains. 

As  a  boy,  and  this  I  heard  in  Florence,  he  was  famous 
in  soldierly  exercises,  so  that,  with  joined  feet,  he  would  jump 
over  the  shoulders  of  grown  men;  and  in  jumping  with  the 
pole  he  had  no  equal ;  while  an  arrow  shot  by  him,  though  he 
drew  his  hand  no  farther  than  his  shoulder,  would  penetrate 
the  strongest  iron  cuirass,  such  force  it  had.  Many  were  the 
stories  in  Florence  concerning  him — to  wit,  how  that,  with  his 
left  foot  against  the  wall  of  the  Duomo,  he  would  throw  an 
apple  high  above  the  topmost  roofs ;  or  how  in  some  church 
he  would  throw  a  small  coin  of  silver  with  such  force  into 
the  air  that  those  who  stood  by  him  heard  it  strike  the 
vault.  On  horseback  too  who  might  equal  him  ?  for  with 
his  hand  he  would  keep  the  point  of  a  cane  on  his  foot ;  and 
thus  he  would  gallop  up  and  down  for  a  long  time,  but  the 
cane  would  not  have  budged.  And  then  (truly  rare  and 
marvellous),  the  wildest  horses,  who  would  not  suffer  any  to 
mount  them,  at  his  word,  nay,  only  looking  upon  him,  be- 
came quiet,  trembling  a  little  as  though  afraid.  He  learned 
music  without  a  teacher,  yet  his  compositions  pleased  masters. 
All  his  life  he  practised  singing,  but  at  home  or  alone 
especially  in  the  country,  with  his  brother  or  his  relations; 
and  he  took  pleasure  too  in  the  organ,  and  was  held  to  be 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  165 

among  the  first  on  that  instrument ;  while  by  following  his 
advice  many  became  expert  musicians. 

At  last  as  he  grew  older,  laying  aside  all  things  else,  he 
gave  himself  to  letters,  and  to  ecclesiastical  and  civil  law,  the 
which  he  studied  so  continuously  and  tirelessly  that  he  fell 
gravely  ill.  And  indeed  his  state  became  such  as  to  move 
all  to  pity ;  yet  he  found  it  not,  for  his  relations  seem  to  have 
been  indifferent  to  him,  and  even  unkind.  And  so,  in  order 
to  find  some  consolation  during  his  convalescence,  though  at 
that  time  he  was  not  yet  twenty  years  old,  he  wrote  the 
Philodoxios ;  and  then  as  soon  as  he  was  well  he  again  devoted 
himself  to  those  studies  of  law  which  he  had  begun,  suffering 
the  while  fatigue  and  poverty,  so  that  he  again  fell  ill,  and 
was  scarcely  able  to  leave  his  bed,  so  feeble  and  thin  was 
he,  while  darkness  gathered  before  his  eyes  and  his  ears 
were  filled  with  strange  noises.  And  the  doctors  being 
called  told  him  that  he  had  wearied  himself,  and  advised  him 
to  abandon  his  studies ;  but  he  would  not  heed  them,  till  at 
last  overhelmed  by  nausea,  no  longer  able  to  remember  the 
names  of  his  most  intimate  friends,  but  only  to  recall  what 
he  had  seen,  he  was  forced  to  abandon  those  studies — to  wit, 
law — which  had  tired  him  most. 

But  he  could  not  live  without  study,  therefore  at  twenty- 
four  years  of  age  he  began  to  examine  physics  and  mathe- 
matics, nothing  doubting  that  he  might  pursue  those  arts 
which  required,  as  he  said,  rather  intellect  than  memory.  It 
was  at  this  time  that  he  wrote  for  his  brother  the  De 
Commodis  Literarum,  atque  Incommodis,  where  so  many  of  his 
thoughts  concerning  literature  may  be  found ;  and  for  his 
own  pleasure  too  at  this  time  he  wrote  many  shorter  works, 
Ephebia,  De  Re/igione,  La  Deifira,  and  many  other  such 
things ;  in  verse  Elegies  and  Eclogues  and  Concioni,  and  similar 
love  poems,  as  a  practice,  or  it  may  be  for  the  sake  of  the 
tranquillity  of  heart  they  brought  him.  Then  for  those  who 


166  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

knew  not  Latin,  and  for  his  relations,  may  be  in  the  hope  of 
winning  their  affection,  he  wrote  the  three  books  of  the  De 
Famiglia ;  and  these  he  wrote  in  Tuscan  during  ninety  days 
in  Rome,  but  at  first,  as  he  told  me,  they  were  so  rough  and 
coarse,  that  one  could  scarcely  call  the  language  Tuscan ;  for, 
owing  to  the  long  exile  of  his  family,  he  had  been  educated 
by  strangers,  and  for  this  cause  it  was  most  difficult  for  him 
to  write  in  the  tongue  of  his  fatherland  with  any  sweetness 
or  force.  Nevertheless,  in  a  short  time,  with  much  study 
and  diligence,  he  wrote  so  well  in  it  that  many  of  his  country- 
men, who  desired  nothing  better  than  to  be  thought  to  speak 
well  in  the  Consiglio,  confessed  that  they  had  borrowed 
many  ornaments  from  him.  And  besides  these  books,  before 
he  was  thirty  years  old,  he  had  written  many  Intercenalia,  and 
especially  those  merry  ones,  del  Morto  and  della  Vedova,  and 
such  like,  a  good  number  of  which  he  burnt,  because  he 
thought  them  not  sufficiently  meditated,  and  he  did  not  wish 
his  enemies  to  charge  him  with  lightness ;  and  yet,  as  I  know, 
they  were  very  humorous,  and  made  one  laugh — and,  as  he 
told  me,  laughter  is  a  kind  of  radiance  of  the  soul.  And  to 
those  who  found  fault  with  his  books  I  have  heard  him  give 
thanks,  for  he  enjoyed  listening  to  criticism,  thinking  thus  to 
perfect  himself;  nevertheless,  he  would  say  that,  if  his  books 
did  not  give  delight  to  all  alike  as  he  wished,  he  was  not  to 
be  blamed,  for  nature  does  not  allow  any  to  do  better  than 
he  can. 

All  his  life  he  watched  himself,  so  scrupulous  was  he  of 
his  honour,  so  that  he  might  be  not  only  far  from  blame, 
but  even  from  suspicion — a  hopeless  wish.  He  himself  has 
confessed  that  calumniators  are  the  worst  people  one  meets 
with,  for  no  one  can  escape  their  poisoned  darts,  which 
wound  even  the  greatest — and  such  wounds  fester  too.  And 
for  this  cause  he  desired  always  the  love  of  good  men.  To 
every  action,  he  said,  much  attention  and  thought  should  be 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  167 

given,  but  especially  to  these  three — walking,  riding,  and 
speaking ;  and  he  bade  men  add  art  to  art,  so  that  no  action 
should  appear  to  be  artful. 

Nevertheless,  good,  peaceful,  and  without  stain  though 
he  was,  he  suffered  much  hatred,  especially  from  his  relations ; 
but  he  bore  it  all  with  a  strong  soul,  preferring  to  be  silent 
rather  than  to  take  an  angry  revenge,  thus  allowing  this 
shame  in  his  family  to  become  generally  known.  I  think 
nothing  hurt  him  so  much  as  the  indifference  of  his  family 
to  his  books,  for  when  he  gave  them  the  De  Famiglia  but 
one  among  them  all  troubled  even  to  read  it. 

He  would  go  a  long  way  to  meet  a  wise  man,  and  if  he 
were  near  at  hand  would  do  all  he  could  to  be  friends  with 
him.  Then  he  would  question  craftsmen  and  such — smiths, 
builders,  shipwrights,  shoemakers,  and  even  tailors — to  dis- 
cover what  might  be  peculiar  or  rare  in  their  works.  In 
money  affairs  he  was  generous  to  foolishness,  careless  of  his 
fortune  if  he  might  benefit  those  in  need.  Yet  by  nature 
he  was  quick  to  anger,  but  overcame  himself,  and  learned 
patience. 

He  would  gather  his  friends  about  him,  and  talk  of 
literature,  at  the  same  time  painting  their  portraits  or 
modelling  them  in  wax;  then  he  would  call  to  him  little 
children,  and  ask  who  it  was  he  had  painted,  and  if  they 
could  not  tell  he  thought  he  had  failed.  And  then — what 
magic  he  possessed — for  he  showed  me  the  whole  world 
contained  in  a  little  box — where,  looking  through  a  small 
hole,  you  might  see  high  mountains,  vast  countries,  and  the 
rivers  in  the  valleys,  and  then  the  sea  and  other  regions  too, 
so  far  off  that  it  seemed  as  though  the  eye  could  scarcely 
pierce  so  far.  He  called  these  things  demonstrations,  and 
they  were  given  in  such  a  way  that  wise  man  and  fool  alike 
doubted  whether  they  were  paintings  that  he  saw  or  the 
very  earth  itself.  There  were  two  different  sorts  of  demon- 


168  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

strations — one  referring  to  things  visible  by  day,  and  the 
other  to  those  visible  by  night.  In  the  latter  you  might  see 
Arcturus,  the  Pleiades,  Orion,  and  other  bodies  celestial,  here 
the  rising  moon  shining  over  the  mountain-tops,  and  there 
the  morning  stars.  In  the  former  you  might  see  the  very 
rosy-fingered  dawn  of  which  Homer  speaks.  And  I  have 
seen  the  Greek  sailors  in  Rimini,  men  learned  in  all  concern- 
ing the  seas,  full  of  fear  and  wonder  when  they  saw  all  this 
world  caught  in  so  small  a  space.  For  often  when  he  asked 
them  what  they  saw  there  they  would  make  answer :  "  We 
behold  a  fleet  far  on  the  high  seas.  It  should  reach  us  before 
noon  if  that  eastern  cloud,  which  means  a  fearful  tempest, 
does  not  overtake  it.  Now  again  we  see  the  whole  sea 
darkened  and  the  sun  gathering  up  the  waters." 

But  all  such  things  as  these  he  preferred  rather  to  in- 
vestigate than  to  demonstrate,  for  he  loved  wisdom  more 
than  glory.  If  to  some  he  seemed  taciturn,  reserved,  almost 
morose,  it  was  that  at  home  he  meditated  upon  all  things  he 
had  seen  abroad.  In  truth  he  was  of  a  kindly  and  cheerful 
nature.  Yet  he  could  be  severe  too,  especially  with  a  char- 
latan, or  those  who  made  an  appearance  of  learning,  but  in 
reality  were  ignorant.  Thus  of  one  of  those  philosophers 
who,  hanging  about  Madonna  Polissena,  was  always  ready 
in  any  discussion  with  a  number  of  inappropriate  sentences 
he  had  learned  by  heart,  he  said :  "  He  seems  to  me  to  be  a 
bag  filled  with  torn  and  unbound  books."  While  to  a 
chattering  fine  poet,  who  was  ever  whining  of  his  love, 
Messer  Leon  Battista  said :  "  At  the  foot  of  a  rotten  tree 
the  garrulous  frog  is  always  at  home."  And  when  I  blamed 
him  for  his  indiscriminate  hospitality — often  he  would  be 
deceived  by  some  worthless  fellow — he  answered  me  :  "  Do 
you  not  know  then  that  a  plane  touches  a  sphere  only  at  one 
point  ? " 

He  would  say  too  that  in  woman  lightness  and  incon- 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  169 

stancy  were  gifts,  really  remedies  for  their  perfidy  and  malice. 
For  if  women  were  to  persevere  in  all  they  began,  all  man's 
efforts  would  come  to  nothing.  He  called  gold  the  soul  of 
work,  and  work  the  servant  of  pleasure.  And  again  I  have 
heard  him  say  that  he  desired  a  mean  in  all  things  save 
patience;  for  patience  should  be  cultivated  to  the  highest 
point  or  else  not  at  all,  and  even  the  worst  things  may  be 
better  borne  with  patience  than  with  anger. 

Such  was  the  beautiful  and  great  spirit  of  Messer  Leon 
Battista  Alberti.  All  that  winter  I  spent  in  his  company 
while  Sigismondo  was  in  Milan.  Sometimes  we  would 
examine  the  churches  of  the  city  together,  and  often  the 
Rocca,  talking  of  many  things.  Sometimes  he  would  read 
me  certain  pages  from  his  De  Famiglia,  and  we,  who  had 
known  so  little  of  family  life,  would  discuss  it,  not  without 
a  certain  humour  and  pathos  as  I  have  thought.  Then  in 
the  spring  Sigismondo  returned,  and  certain  details  which 
awaited  his  decision  were  settled ;  and  at  last,  on  a  showery 
day  in  March,  our  Lord  passed  in  state  from  the  Rocca  to 
S.  Francesco  to  attend  Mass  there  for  the  last  time.  Later 
there  was  to  be  a  "  discorso  "  in  the  great  Hall  of  the  Rocca, 
in  which  Messer  Leon  Battista  was  to  explain  the  plans  he 
had  made  for  that  new  Temple  vowed  in  battle  to  Almighty 
God. 

For  the  old  Gothic  church  of  S.  Francesco,  almost  in  the 
midst  of  the  city,  was  about  to  be  destroyed,  or  rather,  as  we 
seemed  to  understand,  to  be  altogether  changed  into  something 
rich  and  curious — the  mere  brick  and  stone  of  the  old  build- 
ing remaining  to  be  covered  by  the  dreams  of  Sigismondo, 
the  art  of  Leon  Alberti. 

On  that  spring  morning  so  full  of  uncertain  sunshine,  as 
we  passed  through  city  and  drewr  up  at  last,  a  gay  company  of 
cavaliers  and  ladies,  before  that  old  rude  church  in  which  so 
many  of  those  dear  to  Sigismondo  already  lay  buried,  I  re- 


170  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

minded  myself  how  many  violations  that  quiet  sunny  piazza  had 
suffered ;  for  once,  as  it  is  said,  a  temple  of  Venus  stood  on 
this  place  which,  after  the  coming  of  Christianity,  had  been 
given  to  Madonna,  till  some  pedant  passing  by,  angry  that 
Mary  should  be  named  in  such  a  place,  destroyed  it,  and  set 
up  there  a  little  chapel,  which  came  under  the  invocation  of 
S.  Maria  in  Trivio ;  and  this  place  too  was  destroyed  later, 
when,  S.  Francesco  being  dead,  the  Franciscans  took  the 
place,  and,  rebuilding  it,  named  it  after  the  founder  of  their 
Order.  And  now  on  this  same  spot  Sigismondo  was  about 
to  build  a  new  Temple  to  another  Saint,  one  whom,  as  he  told 
us,  he  was  wont  continually  to  invoke  in  battle — a  thing 
which  puzzled  many  at  the  time,  who  thought  that  he  spoke 
of  S.  Sigismund,  for  as  yet  none  knew  that  it  was  to 
Madonna  Isotta,  Divae  Isottae  Sacrum,  that  his  temple  was 
to  be  built.  Was  it  perhaps  some  hint  of  this  that  he  wished 
to  convey  to  us  when,  reminding  us  of  that  old  temple  of 
Venus,  the  flower  of  that  same  company  being  assembled  in 
the  Court  of  the  Rocca,  Mass  being  over,  and  Messer  Leon 
Battista  about  to  begin  his  lecture,  Sigismondo,  smiling  at 
Madonna  Isotta,  who  stood  beside  him,  turned  to  the  com- 
pany, and  presenting  Messer  Battista  to  us  with  many  friendly 
words  added,  as  though  by  way  of  explanation:  "To  raise 
the  dead — that  is  what  we  are  trying  to  do." 

To  raise  the  dead  !  but  Messer  Leon  Battista  would  not 
have  it  so.  "  Not  to  raise  the  dead,  but  rather  to  awaken 
the  living,"  he  began ;  and  certainly,  among  much  that  was 
abstruse,  difficult,  or  merely  technical,  this  was  the  refrain,  as 
it  were,  that  ran  through  his  whole  discourse.  For  as  was 
his  custom  in  discovering  the  plans  he  had  made,  while  he 
explained  to  us  in  what  way  he  proposed  to  carry  out  certain 
ideas  of  Sigismondo,  how  as  by  a  miracle  he  had  solved  the 
problem  of  changing  so  old  and  barbarous  a  place  into  a 
beautiful  building  in  the  modern  manner,  so  that  the  fa9ade, 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  171 

for  instance,  so  bare  and  desolate  now,  would  compose  itself 
under  his  hands  into  a  great  central  door  in  the  manner 
of  the  arch  of  Augustus,  flanked  on  either  side  by  similar 
smaller  arches  divided  by  beautiful  pillars,  on  which  would 
rise  a  pediment  in  the  classic  manner,  and  over  all  a  great 
dome  as  beautiful  as  any  in  Italy,  out  of  Florence,  he  con- 
trived to  introduce  into  his  discourse  many  valuable  thoughts 
about  life,  about  our  life  here  in  Italy.  For  in  thus  changing 
an  old  rude  church,  full  of  a  sort  of  mystery  and  twilight, 
into  the  beautiful  and  temperate  building  he  described  for 
us,  he  seemed  to  suggest  that  he  was  after  all  but  imitating 
the  work  of  God  with  regard  to  the  world  of  men.  The 
old  building  would  remain  then  really  as  it  always  had  been, 
only  where  the  windows  had  been  filled  with  glass  painted 
with  all  kinds  of  fantastic  thoughts  and  figures  he  would  let 
in  the  sun,  so  that  we  might  see  more  clearly  everything  that 
lay  around  us.  And  then  where  there  had  once  been  only  the 
harsh  brick,  now  there  should  be  precious  marbles  carved 
with  figures  ;  and  where  once  there  had  been  twilight,  or  even 
darkness,  now  there  should  be  light.  Yes,  he  seemed  to 
suggest  that  just  that  was  the  most  valuable  thing  he  could 
give  us — light  instead  of  darkness  ;  a  real  spaciousness  such 
as  the  pagan  builders  loved ;  a  true  sense  of  the  proportion 
of  things — of  living  things  too,  and  even  of  the  dead.  Not 
to  awaken  those  who  rested  from  their  labours  in  the  earth 
from  which  they  sprang,  but  to  rouse  the  living — if  we 
caught  his  meaning  aright,  for  it  was  difficult  to  explain 
very  clearly  the  thoughts  which  came  to  one  about  so  hard 
a  subject — it  was  that  he  had  tried  to  do.  For  even  as  long 
ago,  not  so  long  ago  perhaps  as  one  might  have  come  to 
think,  those  whom  we  believed  but  sleeping  had  seemed  to 
haunt  us,  had  oppressed  us  by  their  continual  presence  about 
us,  though  we  saw  them  not,  so  that  in  those  old  twilight 
churches  we  had  come  to  fear  them  almost,  and  to  dread 


172  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

their  restless  ghosts,  so  now  we  were  in  danger  of  a  new 
tyranny  of  the  dead,  of  the  ancients,  under  which  there 
would  be  no  room  for  our  own  thoughts,  since  they  had 
solved  once  and  for  all  (there  lay  the  danger)  every  problem ; 
and  all  we  might  do  was  to  imitate  them,  to  repeat  their 
words,  to  copy  their  art,  to  quote  their  thoughts,  and  since 
they  had  bowed  to  authority  we  too  must  be  ready  to  suffer 
tyranny,  and  not  least  that  of  themselves.  And  to  this 
difficult  saying,  difficult  for  me  at  least,  he  added :  "  Man 
knows  enough  when  he  knows  what  he  knows,  can  do 
enough  when  he  can  do  what  he  can,  has  enough  when  he 
has  what  he  has.  For  when  a  city  is  made  sure  against 
foreign  foes  there  are  yet  left  those  within  the  city,  even  as 
when  the  devil  is  far  off  from  us  still  our  hearts  are  restless." 
This  being  so  then,  if  we  found  ourselves  disheartened  we 
were  to  think  upon  the  greatest  and  sweetest  and  most  con- 
soling things  in  the  world.  Splendour  ?  Ah  !  splendour  had 
the  strength  of  fire — burning  up  the  heart.  Not  to  raise  the 
dead,  but  to  awaken  the  living ;  for  the  greatest  of  all  human 
things  was  Hope,  the  least,  that  which  is  betwixt  life  and 
death,  the  sweetest  to  be  loved,  the  most  liberal,  the  most 
consoling  Time. 


The  discourse,  half  lecture,  half  a  sort  of  mental  dialogue, 
came  to  an  end  amid  a  round  of  applause,  that  gay  company 
crowding  round  the  artist  to  congratulate  him  and  ask  him 
questions.  In  the  confusion  I  made  my  way  out,  a  little 
anxious  to  put  my  thoughts  in  order. 

That  tyranny  he  had  spoken  of — the  tyranny  of  the 
ancients — what  was  it  ?  Just  as  in  old  days,  not  so  long 
ago,  he  had  said,  the  dead  and  their  thoughts  compassed  us 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  173 

round  and  enslaved  us,  so  to-day  we  were  in  danger  of  the 
tyranny  of  the  ancient  world.  Well,  but  just  in  that  ancient 
world,  as  it  seemed  to  me,  lay  our  safety,  our  emancipation 
from  those  dead  thoughts  which  had  overwhelmed  us  for  so 
long.  And  then,  if  he  refused  to  follow  the  ancients,  how 
was  it  that,  in  this  very  church  he  was  building,  he  had 
learned  from  them,  copied  them  almost,  taking  for  his  facade 
the  design  of  the  arch  of  Augustus  ? 

It  was  long  before  I  had  an  opportunity  of  speaking  with 
him  alone ;  for  Sigismondo  took  all  his  time,  and  scarcely  per- 
mitted him  to  leave  him.  But  on  the  day  before  he  de- 
parted, as  it  happened,  I  found  him  quite  by  chance  sitting 
alone  in  the  shade  of  an  ilex-tree,  among  the  flowers,  on  a 
little  hill  not  far  from  the  sea.  He  greeted  me  with  much 
kindness,  and  bade  me  sit  down  beside  him.  After  a  time, 
in  which  he  spoke  of  trivial  things,  I  ventured  to  ask  him 
concerning  that  tyranny  of  the  ancients  of  which  he  had 
spoken  in  his  discourse.  "  For  surely,"  said  I,  "  they  were 
our  masters,  and  one  can  do  no  better  than  learn  from  them." 
"  Learn  from  them — yes,  truly,"  said  he,  "  if  one  may — 
but  to  imitate  them,  I  think  indeed,  is  only  for  poetasters, 
bad  painters,  and  they  who  know  not  how  to  build  or  to 
think  for  themselves ;  for  who  that  may  drink  of  the  stream 
will  not  pass  by  the  pool,  or  who  that  can  drink  of  the 
fountain  will  not  pass  by  the  cup?" 

"  And  the  stream  and  the  fountain,"  said  I — "  what  may 
they  be  in  this  parable  ? " 

"Nature,"  said  he  softly.  We  were  both  silent  for  a 
little ;  then  after  a  time  I  said  to  him :  "  Many  things  seem 
to  be  clear  to  me  now  which  before  were  hidden.  For  now 
I  know  why  my  heart  beats  more  quickly  when  I  look  over 
the  sea  and  when  I  behold  the  spring  flowers,  but  till  now  I 
have  not  been  able  to  understand." 

"  Look  you,"  said  he,  "  there  are  as  great  men  now  as 


174  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

in  old  time,  though  they  be  changed ;  only  the  sun  and  the 
hills  and  the  sea  change  not,  but  remain  as  they  were  long 
ago.  We  are  born,  we  grow  up,  we  think  we  learn  well  or 
ill  how  to  live,  truly  we  learn  only  how  to  die.  Rome  is 
founded,  and  grows  and  rules  the  world,  and  is  destroyed  and 
passes  away,  till  there  is  but  the  shadow  of  a  ruin  where  she 
was.  Christ  is  sung  by  the  angels  in  Bethlehem,  and  dies 
on  the  Cross,  and  the  whole  world  by  these  two  facts  is 
changed  from  what  it  was  before.  Only  Nature  changes 
not,  and  is  ever  beautiful  and  full  of  peace.  Those  clouds 
over  there  like  the  great  wings  of  birds  are  like  those 
Ulysses  looked  on;  that  tree  about  to  burst  into  blossom 
has,  it  and  its  sisters,  for  thousands  of  years  gladdened  the 
heart  of  the  husbandman;  the  same  flowers  run  to-day  in 
the  valley  of  Enna  as  when  Hades  raped  Persephone ;  the 
same  shadows  pass  over  the  hills  there,  the  same  waves 
still  beat  upon  the  rocks.  Is  it  not  of  these  things  after  their 
fashion  that  the  ancients  have  told  us;  and  since  they  remain, 
why  should  we  not  speak  too  our  own  thoughts  concerning 
them  ?  We  bear  in  us  the  germs  of  a  universal  life. 

"  And  again,  if  only  those  who  may  be  said  to  have  lived 
are  they  who  have  written  learned  books  in  Latin,  or  trans- 
lated the  thoughts  of  another  from  the  Greek,  through  this 
the  world  will  be  divided  into  two  parts — those  who  are  culti- 
vated and  those  who  are  not.  And  this  will  be  a  spiritual 
difference,  whereas  before  the  difference  was  material,  a  differ- 
ence of  birth  or  chance." 

"  But,"  said  I,  for  indeed  this  last  seemed  to  me  fantastic, 
"there  has  always  been  such  a  difference  between  the 
civilised  and  the  barbarian." 

For  a  time  he  said  nothing;  then  at  last,  turning  to- 
wards me  with  that  rare  smile  on  his  lips,  he  said :  "  I  have 
sometimes  thought  that  perhaps  there  are  no  more  any  bar- 
barians in  the  world,  for  each  man  alike  has  within  him 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  175 

that  which  is  wisdom,  and  if  it  be  not  in  the  tongue,  it  is  in 
the  heart."  After  a  minute  he  went  on :  "  You  yourself, 
Messere,  were  speaking  not  so  long  since  of  those  poor 
wretches  in  Germany,  those  serfs  who  are  scarcely  human 
as  you  thought,  a  mere  clod  of  earth  shaped  like  a  man, 
but  therefore  more  terrible  than  the  beasts  and  only  less 
brutal  than  the  brute  earth.  Yet  you  told  me  even  from 
this  serf  you  had  received  kindness.  Well,  I  too  in  my  youth 
was  in  Germany.  Yes,  I  remember  it  very  well;  I  was  unhappy 
so  far  from  my  native  land,  for  even  as  a  child  I  was  an  exile. 
Well,  among  these  people  too,  even  the  lowest  of  them,  I 
have  found  nobility  of  heart,  unselfishness,  generosity." 

We  rose  up.  "  Let  us  walk,"  said  he,  "  for  I  am  weary 
of  thinking."  Leaving  the  highway  we  came  presently  to 
a  little  wood,  which,  still  in  silence,  we  were  about  to  enter, 
for  everywhere  little  paths  invited  us  to  follow  them,  when 
suddenly  in  the  wind  that  stirred  now  and  then  among  the 
trees  we  heard  voices,  the  fresh,  shrill  voices  of  young 
women,  whom  at  first  we  could  not  see. 

"Pick  that  one — pick  that  one,"  I  heard;  then  more 
eagerly : 

"  Look  at  this  !     Look  at  this !  " 

"What  is  it?     It  is  a  lily." 

"  The  violets  are  over  here." 

"  I  have  found  the  roses — ah  !  whole  masses  of  them." 

"  Pick  them — pick  them !  they  are  so  fair  and  amorous." 

"  Ah  me !  what  a  thorn  pricks  me." 

"  Ah  !  and  me  too ;  how  it  hurts  !  " 

"  Ah,  ah  !  what  is  that  jumping  ? " 

"  A  cricket — a  cricket ! " 

"  Come  here — come  here  !  pick  these  mushrooms." 

"  Those  are  not  mushrooms,  my  dear." 

"  Yes ;  they  are." 

"  These  or  those  ? " 


176  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

Then  another  called  from  farther  away : 

"Come  here — come  here  for  a  moment — I  have  found 
some  sweet  thyme." 

"We  shall  stay  too  long,"  came  the  answer  from  near 
where  we  were  standing ;  then  too  a  lower  voice  : 

"  What  a  bother  time  is." 

"  It  must  be  nearly  vespers." 

"  Silly  one,  it  is  not  yet  nones." 

"  Listen,  listen !     Is  that  thunder  ? " 

There  was  silence  for  a  moment  while  all  seemed  to  be 
listening ;  then  from  very  far  away : 

"  Hark,  hark  !  I  have  heard  the  nightingale.  Piu  bel  ve', 
pib  bel  ve\" 

"  Where  is  it  ?     Where  is  it  ? " 

Then  we  heard  them  shaking  the  bushes  and  beating 
the  young  oaks ;  and  presently  they  appeared  in  a  clearing  of 
the  woods,  six  maidens,  peasants,  their  arms  full  of  flowers, 
their  hair  glistening  with  raindrops ;  for  in  spite  of  the  sun- 
shine a  shower  had  overtaken  us,  and  as  they  shook  the 
bushes  the  wet  leaves  scattered  them  with  rain. 

Suddenly,  as  they  hunted  thus  for  that  bird's  voice,  beat- 
ing the  shrubs  and  trees,  a  snake  glided  away  in  the  grass  in 
front  of  them. 

"  Oh,  misfortune !  Oh,  dear !  Oh,  horror !  "  They  were 
fleeing,  full  of  fear,  frightened  already,  and  shouting  to  one 
another.  Then,  in  their  haste,  what  falls,  what  slips,  what 
pricking  of  legs  !  We  heard  them  calling  still,  and  laughing, 
long  after  they  were  lost  to  our  sight ;  while  we,  unaware, 
listening  to  their  pleasant  voices,  their  girlish  laughter,  were 
all  wet  with  the  rain. 

In  some  way  I  cannot  define  I  was  glad  our  day  should 
end  with  so  joyful,  so  natural  a  thing  as  that.  And  as  it 
happened  that  merry,  unforeseen  incident  turned  Messer 
Battista's  thoughts  towards  beauty,  so  that  on  the  way  home- 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  177 

ward  he  spoke  of  it,  not  as  other  men  speak,  but  really 
personally — the  thoughts  he  had  concerning  it,  its  value  for 
him  himself.  Thus  I  understood  that  for  him  all  beautiful 
things  were  full  of  delight,  and  especially  beautiful  natural 
things,  as  the  laughter  of  children,  the  voices  of  women,  the 
flight  of  birds,  and  all  animals,  splendid  and  fair;  and  they 
are  to  be  loved,  I  gathered,  not  for  their  usefulness,  but  for 
their  excellence,  as  are  all  things  to  which  Nature  has  given 
such  grace. 

Then  he  told  me  that  when  he  suffered  pain  he  had 
found  nothing  would  so  soon  overcome  it  as  music,  and  when 
he  was  ill  the  sight  of  precious  stones  or  flowers,  and 
especially  of  beautiful  landscapes,  would  heal  him  presently. 

Just  then  we  came  upon  a  man  sowing  a  field.  As  he 
trod  the  rude  furrows  with  his  bare  feet,  casting  forth  the 
seed  with  a  simple  and  beautiful  gesture,  Messer  Battista 
watched  him,  and  I  saw  that  he  had  suddenly  become  grave, 
and  even  sad.  And  at  last,  taking  my  arm,  he  turned  away, 
saying: 

"  Let  us  too  go  back  to  work."  Thus  in  silence  we  came 
back  to  Rimini,  and  on  the  next  day  he  left  us. 


XVI 

Now  while  we  were  thus  busy  with  our  own  splendour  in 
Rimini,  affairs  in  Italy  had  by  no  means  stood  still.     For  on 
23rd  February   1447  Pope  Eugenius  died  in  Rome;  while 
King  Alfonso,  but  fifteen  miles  away  with  his  army,  awaited 
the  new  election.     It  was  said  that  when,  a  few  days  before 
the  Pope's  death,  the  Archbishop  of  Florence  had  wished  to 
administer  extreme  unction,  for  it  was  thought  he  could  not 
live  through  the  night,  the  dying  Pope  made  answer :  "  I  am 
still  strong ;  I  know  my  time ;  when  the  hour  is  come  I  will 
send  for  you."     And  Alfonso,  hearing  this,  exclaimed  to  one 
of  his  secretaries :  "  It  is  no  wonder  that  the  Pope,  who  has 
made  war  against  Sforza,  the  Colonna,  and  myself,  to  say 
nothing  of  all  Italy,  should  dare  to  fight  against  Death  also." 
Such  was  indeed  Eugenius,  violent,  headstrong,  narrow- 
minded,  a  friar,  who  was  fitted  rather  to  govern  a  convent 
than  to  rule  the  whole  Church ;  yet,  having  lost  everything, 
gradually  he  won  all  back  again,  and  by  the  same  means  by 
which  he  had  lost  it — I  mean  his  self-will,  obstinacy,  and 
stubbornness.     He  was  a  man  of  the  old  age,  old-fashioned  as 
we  say,  for  he  cared  nothing  for  the  new  learning,  and  in- 
deed had  little  culture.     Yet  he  brought  Fra  Angelico  da 
Fiesole    to   Rome    to    decorate    his    chapel;    while    Messer 
Lorenzo  Ghiberti's  work  in  Florence,  those  beautiful  gates 
of  S.  Giovanni  Battista,  so  awakened  his  wonder  that  on  his 
return  to  Rome    he  employed   Messer  Antonio   Filareti   to 
make   similar  gates   in  bronze   for  S.  Pietro;    but   Messer 
Antonio  was,  as  all  may   see,  very  different    from   Messer 
Lorenzo.     It  is  true  too  that  Messer  Poggio  Branciolini,  our 

178 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  179 

Messer  Flavio  Biondo,  Messer  Giovanni  Aurispa,  and  other 
good  scholars,  were  among  his  secretaries ;  but  he  marked 
them  not,  preferring  a  friar  to  a  learned  man,  and  the  ad- 
vancement of  the  Franciscan  order  to  which  he  belonged  be- 
fore the  advancement  of  learning.  And  indeed  the  Church 
did  more  for  him  than  he  for  the  Church;  for  the  same 
divinity  and  marvel  that  hedged  it  round  guarded  him  too, 
saving  him  at  last  from  the  consequences  of  his  worst  errors, 
and  re-establishing  the  Papacy  in  the  hearts  of  men. 

All  this  being  so,  there  could  not  but  be  some  confusion 
at  his  death  and  during  the  election  of  his  successor.  We 
heard  that  the  people  of  Rome  had  called  a  meeting  in  the 
convent  of  the  Aracceli,  hoping,  as  Stefano  Porcaro,  their 
leader,  lately  Capitano  del  Popolo  in  Florence,  told  all  the 
world,  to  obtain  an  agreement  with  the  Pope  such  as  even  the 
smallest  cities  in  the  States  of  the  Church  had  won.  And 
some  saw  in  this  a  hope  for  the  revival  of  the  Republic,  but 
I  was  not  among  them.  Nevertheless,  men's  hearts  were  full 
of  some  such  desire,  yet  with  King  Alfonso  at  Tivoli,  pro- 
mising every  day  assistance  to  the  Cardinals  if  need  should 
arise,  those  who  had  set  their  hearts  on  liberty  feared  to 
move  lest  in  one  throw  all  should  be  lost. 

Of  the  election  we  heard  but  little.  First,  we  were  told 
the  Colonna,  supported  as  he  was  by  Cardinal  Scarampo, 
would  certainly  be  elected ;  but  at  last  when  the  news  came 
we  found  that  the  Cardinal  of  Bologna,  a  man  of  obscure 
birth,  Thomas  of  Sarzana,  had  been  chosen,  thus  proving  once 
more  the  old  saying  of  the  Romans :  "  He  who  goes  into  the 
conclave  Pope  comes  out  a  Cardinal."  Thomas  of  Sarzana 
took  the  name  of  Nicolas  V.,  in  memory,  as  it  was  said,  of 
Nicol.  Albergata,  some  time  Bishop  of  Bologna,  who  had  be- 
friended him  in  his  youth.  Now  the  new  Pope,  as  I  knew, 
was  a  man  devoted  to  learning,  having  a  great  knowledge  of 
books,  for  even  Cosimo  de'  Medici  consulted  him  about  his 


180  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

library ;  therefore  it  seemed  to  me  that  the  times  had  given 
us  their  own  man,  and  many  who  had  been  hostile  to  the 
new  learning  thought  now  that  God  had  declared  Himself  on 
our  side. 

Affairs  in  Italy,  however,  imperatively  demanded  the 
Pope's  attention.  One  of  the  first  things  he  did  on  his 
election  was  to  confirm  Antonio  Ordelaffi  in  the  vicariate 
of  Forlt,  and,  this  being  accomplished,  Sigismondo  gave  to 
that  Lord  his  daughter  Lucrezia  in  marriage  (she  had  been 
born  to  him  by  Madonna  Gentile  di  Giovanni,  of  whom  I 
say  nothing),  and  this  news  was  published  in  Rimini  in  the 
court  of  the  Rocca  on  i6th  March. 

There  were  other  and  more  serious  affairs,  however,  which 
had  to  be  dealt  with,  and  of  these  not  the  least  was  the 
pacification  of  Italy,  which  on  the  very  day  of  his  election 
he  had  promised  with  God's  help  to  bring  to  pass.  Yet 
indeed  the  outlook  promised  anything  rather  than  peace. 
It  is  true  that  Signer  Leonello  d'Este,  wishing  to  assure  the 
Pope  of  his  friendship,  offered  him  Ferrara  for  a  conference ; 
but  the  powers  of  Italy,  while  they  protested  their  willingness 
to  discuss  affairs,  intended  for  the  most  part  to  go  no  further 
towards  peace ;  for  the  Venetians,  seeing  that  the  death  of 
the  Duke  of  Milan  could  not  be  far  distant,  were  anxious  to 
keep  Sforza  engaged  far  away  in  the  Marca;  the  Floren- 
tines, jealous  of  the  prosperity  of  Venice,  wished  to  see  Sforza 
arrayed  against  her ;  nor  were  they  without  anxiety  on  their 
own  account  too,  for  King  Alfonso,  urged  thereto  by  Eugenius, 
and  ambitious  of  becoming  master  of  Italy,  had  begun  to 
invade  Tuscany,  hoping  to  do  that  and  more,  seeing  indeed 
no  obstacle  at  all  in  his  way,  save  Venice.  Such  were  the 
dispositions  of  power  in  Italy  when  the  Commissaries  met  in 
Ferrara.  Yet  while  they  seemed  to  desire  peace  all  were 
really  anxious  to  prolong  the  negotiations,  especially  the 
Venetians,  who  hoped  thus  on  the  death  of  the  Duke  to 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  181 


become  masters  of  Milan.  For  the  dying  Visconti,  whose 
mistrust  of  everyone,  and  not  least  of  Sforza,  encouraged 
them  in  this  dream,  would  not  suffer  the  Count,  who,  he  fore- 
saw, would  succeed  him,  to  enter  the  dukedom,  but  ordered 
him  instead  to  harry  the  Venetians  in  their  own  territory. 

Now  Count  Francesco  for  his  part,  seeing  that  he  had 
lost  the  March,  and  that  it  would  be  difficult,  if  not  impossible, 
in  the  present  state  of  affairs  to  win  it  back  again,  from  this 
time  set  all  his  hopes  on  Milan ;  and  being  in  want  of  money, 
for  indeed  Sigismondo  had  beggared  him,  he  agreed  to  remove 
his  garrison  from  Jesi,  and  to  think  no  more  of  La  Marca,  if 
the  Pope  would  pay  him  twenty-five  thousand  florins ;  and 
so  it  happened.  Sigismondo  too,  thinking  every  hour  a  day 
while  Sforza  remained  in  his  neighbourhood,  also  made  him 
presents,  and  returned  to  him  all  the  jewels  and  precious 
furniture  he  had  pawned  to  defend  the  March ;  and  the  Duke, 
seeing  that  Sforza  was  to  come  to  his  side,  sent  him  some 
thousands  of  ducats. 

Thus  equipped  in  the  beginning  of  July,  the  Count  set 
out  from  Pesaro,  where  he  lodged,  sending  before  him  with 
a  hundred  horse  his  children  and  servants,  and,  drawn  by 
a  hundred  oxen,  all  his  engines,  on  the  way  to  Lombardy. 
On  9th  August  he  himself,  with  Madonna  Bianca,  in  the 
midst  of  his  army — six  thousand  strong,  horse  and  foot — came 
to  lodge  at  the  end  of  the  first  day's  journey  at  S.  Giustina, 
five  miles  from  Rimini,  where  Sigismondo  with  Madonna 
Polissena  went  to  greet  him.  Nor  can  I  tell  how  we  rejoiced 
to  see  the  last  of  that  cunning  and  brutal  robber ;  but  (had 
we  but  known  it !)  we  had  not  done  with  him  yet.  Four 
days  later  the  Duke  of  Milan  died,  appointing  as  his  heir 
King  Alfonso  of  Aragon. 

Now,  on  the  departure  of  Sforza,  Sigismondo  thought  he 
ought  to  gain  something  from  the  defeat  of  so  great  an 
enemy.  Therefore  a  large  number  of  the  citizens  of 


182  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

Fossombrone  (that  city  which  Galeazzo  Malatesta  had  sold 
with  Pesaro)  being  discontented  with  the  rule  of  Urbino, 
and  anxious  once  more  to  come  under  the  old  dominion  of  the 
Malatesti,  Sigismondo,  moved  by  their  continual  exhortations, 
appeared  on  i  st  September  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  city 
with  some  few  troops.  Those  within  the  town  thinking 
the  time  was  come  rose  up,  crying :  "  Muriano  i  Feltreschi, 
Vivano  i  Malatesti  nostri  antichi  Signori,  Viva  II  Signor 
Sigismondo"  All  might  have  gone  well  but  for  two  mistakes 
which  our  Lord  made,  as  Messer  Gaspare  Broglio  has  con- 
stantly told  me ;  for  it  was  first  necessary  to  take  the  citadel, 
which  was  still  in  the  hands  of  the  Feltreschi,  and  for  this 
Sigismondo  soon  found  he  had  with  him  too  small  an  army. 
On  the  other  hand,  whatever  promises  Alessandro  Sforza 
had  made  to  him,  he  ought  never  to  have  believed  such  a 
man  when  he  swore  he  would  not  interfere  in  an  affair  that 
touched  him  so  nearly.  However  this  may  be,  so  soon  as 
Federigo  of  Urbino  heard  of  it  he  sent  to  Alessandro  Sforza 
requesting  his  help,  which  he  gave,  so  that  these  two,  advanc- 
ing together,  threw  all  their  troops  into  the  city,  outnumbering 
our  Lord  two  to  one.  Nevertheless,  Sigismondo  held  his 
ground,  awaiting  the  attack,  which  came  presently,  and  lasted 
all  day,  and  far  into  the  night,  under  cover  of  which  at  last 
our  Lord  was  obliged  to  retreat,  being  outnumbered,  and  hold- 
the  worse  position,  and  having  no  bowmen — thus  abandoning 
the  city,  which  was  given  up  to  plunder. 

In  the  meantime,  the  conference  at  Ferrara  having  been 
dissolved,  all  Italy  was  again  thrown  into  confusion  by  the 
death  of  the  Duke ;  and  first  we  heard  that  the  troops  of 
Alfonso  had  occupied  the  vast  citadel  of  Milan,  and  then 
that  the  Milanese,  anxious  for  liberty,  had  bought  them  out ; 
then  that  the  Venetians  were  moving  their  armies  thither  to 
take  it  from  them ;  while  Count  Francesco  awaited  at  Cremona 
a  favourable  moment  to  act  as  opportunity  offered.  Rumours 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  183 

were  not  wanting  of  victory  and  defeat;  but  at  last  we  had 
news  we  could  credit — to  wit,  that  Aragon,  seeing  his  own 
cause  hopeless,  preferred  anyone  to  Venice  as  Lord  of  Milan, 
and  was  therefore  anxious  to  support  Sforza.  And  for  this 
cause,  in  order  to  prevent  the  Florentines  giving  aid  to  Venice, 
not  without  the  promise  of  assistance  from  some  of  the 
Sienese,  he  was  preparing  to  invade  Tuscany  in  earnest. 

Now  in  the  previous  winter  Sigismondo  had  entered  the 
service  of  King  Alfonso,  and  was  therefore,  as  it  seemed, 
bound  to  assist  him,  and  indeed  Aragon  depended  upon  his 
help,  as  we  soon  learned.  Nevertheless,  the  whole  aspect  of  ) 
affairs  had  changed  since  the  King,  allied  with  Eugenius,  the 
Duke  of  Milan,  and  Marchese  Leonello,  had  taken  him  into 
his  service  for  a  year  or  longer,  if  they  should  both  agree  to 
prolong  the  Ferma,  on  the  following  terms  : — Sigismondo  was 
to  have  the  title  of  Lieutenant-General ;  his  army  was  to 
consist  of  six  hundred  Lancia,  and  the  same  number  of  foot. 
He  was  to  receive  thirty-two  thousand  four  hundred  ducats 
in  advance  for  his  men,  fourteen  thousand  ducats  a  year  for 
himself,  together  with  eight  ducats  a  month  for  every  Lancia, 
and  two  for  every  foot  soldier.  On  the  other  hand,  partly 
urged  thereto  by  hate  of  Sigismondo,  partly  by  the  entreaties 
of  Florence,  Federigo  of  Urbino  had  entered  the  service  of 
the  Florentines,  who,  now  seeing  themselves  threatened  on 
the  one  side  by  the  King,  and  on  the  other  by  Sigismondo, 
whose  fame  was  run  through  Italy,  so  that  he  was  feared 
beyond  any  other  General,  thought  they  ought  to  do  every-  J 
thing  to  detach  our  Lord  from  that  enterprise,  and  to  gain  his 
friendship.  And,  to  tell  truth,  Sigismondo  was  become  luke- 
warm in  the  cause  of  Aragon,  since  that  King  had  decided  to 
support  Sforza.  Moreover,  King  Alfonso  had  sent  him  but 
twenty-five  thousand  of  the  thirty-two  thousand  four  hundred 
ducats  he  had  promised ;  and  though  he  expended  these  in 
the  King's  cause  they  were  not  enough  to  enable  him  to 


184  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

furnish  the  necessary  number  of  soldiers,  much  less  to  give 
them  the  three  months'  pay  already  due,  so  that,  to  his 
dishonour,  as  he  thought,  his  troops  diminished  daily.  There- 
fore he  sent  Messer  Accorso  Leonardelli,  who  had  arranged 
this  service  for  him  with  the  King,  and  Messer  Pietro  de' 
Gennari,  one  of  his  secretaries,  to  urge  Alfonso  to  supply  at 
least  the  wages  of  the  soldiers ;  but  they  brought  nothing 
back  save  words. 

Now  just  at  this  time  there  came  to  our  city  Messer 
Gianozzo  Manetti,  the  scholar,  as  ambassador  from  Florence. 
This  famous  man,  whom  Sigismondo  had  often  wished  to  see 
and  speak  with,  for  he  had  defended  the  Christian  Faith 
against  both  Jews  and  Pagans,  added  to  a  skill  in  negotiation 
and  the  gifts  of  a  great  orator  every  sort  of  learning,  so  that, 
as  it  was  told  us,  he  kept  a  Jew  in  his  house  with  whom  he 
spoke  always  in  Hebrew,  and  more  than  one  Greek  that  he 
might  converse  in  that  tongue  also.  And  indeed,  as  I  found, 
he  was  a  man  not  only  full  of  every  sort  of  knowledge,  but 
of  a  temperate  and  just  judgment  in  all  things,  so  that  his 
favourite  maxim  was  teniamo  la  'via  del  mezzo.  As  though  to 
bear  witness  to  the  temperance  of  his  spirit,  he  was  of  good 
stature,  neither  too  big  nor  too  small,  neither  fat  nor  thin,  and 
of  most  happy  countenance,  for  he  seemed  ever  to  be  smiling ; 
only  his  head,  which  was  very  large,  so  that  he  could  never 
find  a  berretta  to  fit  him,  departed  from  the  moderation  of 
his  aspect,  as  of  his  spirit.  He  was  grey-haired  too,  his  hair 
having  begun  to  turn  white  when  he  was  nineteen,  as  he 
told  me ;  and  in  this  too,  as  in  his  manner  of  life,  one  may 
discern  the  anxiety  of  his  heart  for  learning  and  those  things 
which  are  of  the  mind.  All  the  time  he  was  with  us 
he  was  up  each  morning  very  early,  giving  himself  but 
five  hours'  sleep,  for  such  was  his  habit.  Yet  he  troubled 
no  one,  not  even  servants,  by  his  early  rising,  but  put  on  a 
cioppa,  and  thus  studied  for  five  hours  before  the  rest  of  us 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  185 

arose.  He  kept  all  the  fasts,  and  when  I  spoke  to  him  of 
exercise,  and  especially  of  climbing  mountains,  he  told  me 
that  on  feast  days  in  Florence  he  ever  went  to  S.  Miniato  al 
Monte  for  Mass,  and  after,  if  he  had  time  (time  for  him  being 
a  thing  of  priceless  value),  he  climbed  up  to  the  Piana  di  S. 
Giuliano  to  behold  his  beloved  city. 

It  was  this  man  whom,  in  its  cunning  wisdom,  the  city  of 
Florence  had  sent  to  Sigismondo  to  win  his  friendship  and,  if 
it  were  possible,  his  active  help  against  King  Alfonso.  And 
in  nothing  was  their  wisdom  better  shown  than  in  this,  that 
instead  of  sending  us  money,  as  they  were  wont  to  do  with 
other  Lords,  Messer  Gianozzo  had  brought  in  his  baggage 
many  precious  copies  of  manuscripts.  And  then  he  trusted 
much  to  the  delight  of  his  conversation,  his  tales  of  Greece 
and  Byzantium,  his  wonderful  knowledge  of  tongues  also, 
and  the  charm  with  which  he  could  advance  his  arguments, 
full  of  surprising  learning  and  crammed  with  quotations, 
rather  than  to  any  force  in  the  arguments  themselves.  Cer- 
tainly Sigismondo,  who  had  been  but  lukewarm  for  the  cause 
of  Aragon,  became  cooler  from  day  to  day ;  yet,  even  while 
Messer  Gianozzo  was  putting  into  his  mind  certain  thoughts 
of  joining  the  Florentines,  he  sent  Messer  Accorso  Leonar- 
delli  once  more  to  the  King,  hinting  this  time  that  he  would 
be  compelled  to  come  to  terms  with  others  if  the  money 
agreed  upon  were  not  paid.  With  Leonardelli  we  had  sent 
Benvenuti,  who  presently  returned,  bringing  us  word  that  the 
King  was  angered,  and  had  not  scrupled  to  throw  Messer 
Accorso  into  prison  in  Castel  S.  Ermo. 

Then  Sigismondo,  calling  a  council,  asked  each  of  us  his 
opinion.  Some  declared  for  the  Florentines,  the  ancient 
allies  of  the  Malatesti;  some  thought  we  ought  to  be 
careful  before  offending  so  powerful  a  king,  and  that,  at  the 
least  the  money  advanced  should  be  returned  if  Sigismondo 
entered  the  service  of  Florence.  Messer  Roberto  Valturio, 


186  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

however,  prevailed,  holding  that  the  money  had  already  been 
expended  in  the  King's  service,  and  that  Alfonso's  failure  to 
observe  the  agreement  had  saved  us  from  the  necessity  of 
returning  the  money  hurriedly  at  any  rate.  Moreover,  he 
urged  that  the  restoration  of  the  money  would  not  appease 
the  anger  of  the  King. 

There  was  then  but  one  obstacle  left  between  Sigismondo 
and  the  service  of  Florence,  but  indeed  that  seemed  insur- 
mountable. I  mean  Federigo  of  Urbino,  who  was  already 
in  the  pay  of  the  Republic.  Could  Sigismondo  fight  side 
by  side  with  Federigo  when  the  enmity  between  them  was 
open  and  declared  ?  For  the  exiles  from  Fossombrone  had, 
with  our  Lord's  help,  taken  many  places  from  Federigo,  and 
had  garrisoned  them.  Hearing  this,  Messer  Gianozzo  Manetti 
offered  to  go  to  Federigo  and  arrange  matters,  the  which  he 
did,  with  his  usual  success,  for  he  was  an  orator  beyond  price. 

Then  Sigismondo  signed  the  new  agreement  with  the 
Florentines  and  the  Venetians,  and  the  same  day  it  was 
published  how  that  he  had  entered  this  service  with  two 
thousand  horse,  and  that  passage  between  their  territories 
and  ours  was  free  to  us  and  to  them.  Thus  began  the  war 
against  Aragon ;  yet  in  that  year  there  was  to  be  no  fighting, 
for  the  King  had  as  general  only  Simonetto  di  Castel  di 
Pietro,  who  could  do  nothing,  or  very  little,  for  even  the 
Sienese  deserted  him,  supplying  him  but  very  scantily  with 
provisions,  fearing  to  help  him,  since  he  was  weak.  There- 
fore he  went  early  into  winter  quarters,  near  Porto  Baratto, 
where  he  could  obtain  provisions  by  sea  from  the  Kingdom. 

All  this  time  in  Rimini,  since  the  departure  of  Messer 
Leon  Battista  Alberti,  we  had  been  busy  with  the  building 
of  that  Temple  he  had  designed,  a  work  I  cannot  help  think- 
ing, if  rightly  considered,  of  more  importance  than  the  wars 
which  are  gradually  bleeding  Italy  to  death,  and  which,  for 
what  I  can  see,  decide  nothing  whatsoever. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  187 

Now  since  it  had  been  decided  not  to  build  a  new  church, 
but  to  rebuild  an  old  one,  the  mere  fabric  of  S.  Francesco 
was  already  standing,  and  the  work  of  encasing  it,  as  it  were, 
in  marble,  after  a  new  design,  was  proceeding  apace.  But 
Sigismondo,  wishing  to  celebrate  the  great  festa  of  the 
Jubilee  of  1450,  fast  approaching,  in  his  new  Temple,  de- 
cided to  proceed  with  the  chapels  and  interior  decorations 
rather  than  with  the  fa$ade  or  the  dome.  Desiring  there- 
fore above  all  that  a  chapel  should  be  built  to  his  saint, 
S.  Sigismund  of  Burgundy,  on  the  last  day  of  October,  the 
Bishop  Bartolomeo  de!  Malatesti  laid  the  first  stone  with 
every  kind  of  solemnity,  our  Lord  and  all  Rimini  being 
present.  Then  in  November  Signer  Antonio  Ordelaffi 
brought  his  son  to  see  little  Madonna  Lucrezia,  his  bride. 
They  were  lodged  in  Contrada  di  Croce,  and  many  splendid 
festivities  were  given  in  their  honour,  both  there  and  in  the 
Rocca,  which  was  now  altogether  finished,  and  where  for 
some  time  Sigismondo,  as  I  have  said,  had  been  living. 
Among  others  who  were  present  at  these  rejoicings  came 
Galeazzo  de'  Malatesti,  weary  of  a  private  life  in  Florence, 
and  since  the  death  of  Costanza,  his  wife,  less  attached  to 
Sforza  than  of  old,  and  for  this  cause,  if  for  no  other,  friends 
with  Sigismondo.  He  came  to  us  from  Mantua  unbidden ;  nor 
were  men  slow  to  see  how  eagerly  he  courted  our  Lord,  who 
used  him  kindly,  giving  him  the  command  of  a  company. 
And,  as  though  to  prove  his  loyalty,  on  25th  January  in  the 
new  year  he  went  out,  and,  entering  the  contado  of  Pesaro, 
took  the  castle  of  Monteluro,  and  would  have  easily  got 
possession  of  other  places  if  heavy  rains  had  not  forced  him 
to  retire.  Some  suspicion,  however,  attached  to  his  prowess, 
and  it  was  thought  he  had  taken  that  place  rather  by  treason 
than  by  fighting. 

On  5th  February  Count  Francesco  da  Piagnano,  an  old 
adherent  of  the  Malatesti,  came  to  see  us  in  Rimini ;  and 


188  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

Sigismondo,  who  had  spent  much  of  the  winter  in  Fano, 
preparing  his  army  for  the  spring,  returned  to  welcome  him. 
Yet  not  for  this  alone ;  for  not  long  since  Madonna  Isotta 
had  borne  him  a  son,  whom  they  named  Giovanni;  nor  was 
the  disgrace  to  so  old  a  family  borne  by  Messer  Francesco 
degli  Atti  and  his  son  Antonio  without  resentment,  for  all 
that  Sigismondo  had  made  them  his  bankers.  Therefore  our 
Lord,  seeking  for  some  way  to  pacify  them,  on  28th  February, 
in  the  Court  of  the  Rocca,  before  all  the  citizens,  knighted 
Messer  Antonio,  with  his  own  sword  striking  him  on  the 
shoulder ;  while  Count  Antonio  of  Urbino  gave  him  his  spurs 
and  Messer  Pier  Giovanni  Brugnoli  girt  him  with  the  sword. 
Nor  was  Sigismondo  content  with  this,  for  he  presented  him 
with  the  Borghi  of  Razzano,  and  gave  him  three  suits  of 
cloth  of  gold,  and  three  more  of  silk,  three  pieces  of  velvet, 
and  a  beautiful  basin  with  cups  all  of  silver.  While  in 
the  midst  of  the  ceremony  Madonna  Isotta  came  from  our 
Lord's  side,  and  gave  her  brother  another  cup  of  silver  filled 
with  two  hundred  ducats  of  gold. 

How  can  I  tell  my  thoughts  of  all  this  ?  I  know  not ;  for 
I  have  loved  Madonna  Isotta,  who  was  learned,  gentle,  and 
strong,  who  loved  music,  poetry,  and  drawing,  and  was  skilled 
in  history  and  philosophy  too.  Was  it  for  these  things  Sigis- 
mondo loved  her?  For  indeed  he  had  had  no  other  aim  in 
all  his  actions  than  to  honour  this  lady.  Yet  it  was  not  for 
her  sake  only  he  forgot  he  was  a  husband,  but  for  his  own; 
yet  to  her  he  ever  returned,  nor  did  he  wear  any  other  badge 
but  hers  only.  And  for  this  love  everywhere  in  Italy  poets 
sang  of  her,  and  her  likeness  was  known  to  all  by  means  of 
the  medals  Messer  Matteo  da  Pasti  had  made  at  Sigismondo's 
command.  That  he  loved  her  with  all  his  heart  I  will  not, 
nor  cannot  doubt;  some  tragic  thing  seems  to  lie  there 
hidden.  Often  in  those  days  I  used  to  wonder,  looking  on 
the  pale,  serene,  and  yet  eager  face  of  Madonna  Polissena, 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  189 

remembering  too  Madonna  Ginevra  d'Este,  when  it  would 
declare  itself.  Other  loves  he  had  too,  less  worthy,  nay, 
rather  altogether  unworthy  of  him ;  yet  in  those  days,  while 
I  divined  a  tragedy,  I  had  no  fear.  Was  he  not  young,  full 
of  energy  and  genius  ?  Certainly  it  was  necessary  for  him 
to  express  himself,  for  that  which  is  evil  will  find  expression, 
even  as  that  which  is  good ;  and  it  seems  to  me  that  women 
are  to  be  loved.  If  that  had  been  all,  should  I  have  been 
shamed  as  I  was,  should  I  have  been  filled  with  remorse  for 
him  who  had  raised  up  my  hopes  only  to  dash  them  to 
pieces,  so  that  in  him  I  had  thought  of  as  a  hero  like  to  the 
men  of  old,  a  man  of  the  old  Latin  race,  I  suddenly  discerned — 
yes,  a  barbarian  ?  No,  I  cannot  think  it.  He  was  a  man  of 
his  age,  in  which  the  dead  have  come  to  life ;  he  was  haunted 
by  dreams ;  out  of  the  dust  of  the  innumerable  ruins  he  threw 
down  to  build  his  Temple  some  old  deity,  half  god,  half 
devil,  crept  into  his  soul.  Was  he  aware  of  this?  Did 
he  sometimes  think  he  was  no  longer  a  man?  Truly  he 
believed  in  the  stars,  and  their  sinister  influence,  if  indeed 
they  govern  our  lives  as  some  say,  may  account  for  what 
is  so  difficult  to  understand.  Yet  I  can  never  reconcile  in 
my  heart  him  I  have  loved,  that  hero,  the  leader  of  every 
forlorn  hope,  the  passionate  lover  of  the  more  human  learn- 
ing, the  builder  of  the  fair  Temple  I  have  so  loved,  with  him 
who  .  .  .  Enough,  enough,  I  will  write  no  more  to-day. 


XVII 

SOME  days  later,  while  still  all  our  world  discussed  that 
strange  festa  and  the  knighthood  conferred  on  Antonio 
degli  Atti,  in  the  earliest  dawn  a  rider  thundered  at  our 
gate,  demanding  admittance  on  the  business  of  Florence. 
Then  we  learned  that  King  Alfonso  had  begun  to  move,  and 
that  the  Florentines  had  already  surprised  Ripalbello  and  some 
other  places  of  little  importance  that  had  fallen  into  the  King's 
hands  in  the  last  December.  The  order  had  come,  and 
Sigismondo  must  set  out  immediately  for  Tuscany. 

He  left  Rimini  at  the  head  of  his  troops  on  8th  March, 
not  quite  happy  in  his  mind  as  it  seemed,  for  sinister  rumours 
continally  reached  us  of  some  treachery  on  the  part  of 
Urbino.  And  indeed  not  many  days  later  news  came  in 
earnest  that  the  commissaries  of  Federigo,  in  spite  of 
the  treaty  and  the  common  cause  in  which  their  Lord  served 
with  ours,  had  seized  Talacchio.  Then  a  few  days  later 
came  other  news,  which  told  that  Monte  Grimano,  Monte 
Itassi,  and  other  strongholds  that  stood  for  us  in  the  Monte- 
feltri,  had  fallen,  so  that  we  feared  what  might  next  befall. 
All  this  coming  to  the  knowledge  of  Sigismondo,  who,  partly 
delayed  by  the  weather,  partly  by  his  foreboding,  was  not 
gone  far  towards  Tuscany,  he  delayed  yet  further,  lingering 
near  us,  sending  us  orders  for  the  defence  of  his  territory 
and  of  Rimini  itself  if  it  should  be  necessary,  bidding  us 
take  a  Castle  for  a  Castle.  Then  one  of  our  condottiere, 
Conte  da  Piagnano,  seeking  to  retake  those  strongholds  so 
treacherously  taken  from  us,  discovered  among  the  booty 
some  letters  from  Federigo  to  his  commissaries,  naming 

190 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  191 

these  places  he  hoped  to  take  from  us.  With  this  proof  of 
his  treachery  in  our  hands  Sigismondo  appealed  to  Florence, 
who,  alarmed  at  the  quarrel  between  their  generals,  sent 
Messer  Neri  Capponi  to  our  Lord,  who  by  that  time  had 
come  to  Arezzo,  and  refused  to  go  farther.  Messer  Neri 
Capponi,  who  had  already  seen  Federigo  encamped  in  Pisan 
territory,  succeeded  in  arranging  a  new  peace  between  us 
and  Urbino ;  then  at  last  Sigismondo  consented  to  advance 
to  meet  that  traitor,  which  he  did  at  Spedaletto,  between 
Monte  Scudaio  and  Volterra;  but  between  him  and  Federigo 
was  the  army  of  Florence,  ten  thousand  strong. 

Florence  did  well  to  be  anxious.  Indeed  the  moment 
was  critical,  for  Aragon  had  suddenly  fallen  on  Piombino, 
besieging  it  by  land  and  sea,  indignant  that  Rinaldo  Orsini, 
Lord  of  that  place,  had  remained  loyal  to  the  Florentines, 
refusing  him  quarters  in  his  territory.  All  that  year  King 
Alfonso  continued  the  siege,  hoping  against  hope  to  take 
Piombino ;  but,  on  the  one  hand,  Orsini  had  sworn  to  defend 
it  to  the  last  man  if  Florence  would  send  him  aid,  and,  on  the 
other,  Sigismondo,  at  the  head  of  his  flying  columns,  prevented 
any  reinforcements  from  reaching  the  King;  and  though 
assault  followed  assault,  and  mine  after  mine  was  made, 
towers  built,  and  every  sort  of  bombarde  brought  into  action, 
sortie  followed  on  sortie,  and  the  flying  columns  of  Sigismondo 
were  so  strong  that  at  last  Aragon  lifted  the  siege,  swearing 
to  return. 

How  may  I  tell  of  the  terror  and  hardship  of  that  campaign  ? 
And  indeed  there  is  but  little  need,  for  had  not  Messer 
Basinio,  who  came  to  us  in  Rimini  at  its  close,  sung  of  it  in 
verse  ?  Indeed  the  troops  on  both  sides  suffered  terribly,  for 
the  country  is  barren,  poor,  and  without  population,  full  of 
fever,  and  altogether  a  wilderness.  Wine  will  not  grow  there, 
and  the  scarce  water  is  bad,  and  for  this  cause  more  than  two 
hundred  men  deserted  from  the  king,  who  in  the  beginning 


192  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

was  splendidly  furnished  with  everything  save  straw;  but 
Sigismondo  saw  that  he  got  no  fresh  provisions,  whether  by 
land  or  sea.  It  was  in  the  midst  of  these  privations  that  the 
virtue  of  Sigismondo  shone  brightest.  He  suffered  fatigue, 
sleeplessness,  thirst,  hunger,  and  every  other  privation,  as  did 
the  men  of  old.  He  broke  the  same  mouldy  black  bread  as 
his  men,  which  a  dog  would  have  refused ;  he  made  a  dish  of 
acorns  seem  a  delicious  delicacy;  water  full  of  lime  and 
sulphur  he  made  appear  as  good  as  wine ;  and  his  soldiers 
followed  him,  singing  through  all  that  desolate,  silent  country, 
as  I  have  heard,  the  poems  he  had  made  in  praise  of  Madonna 
Isotta. 

Thus  Sigismondo  hung  tenaciously  on  the  flanks  of  the 
enemy.  If  he  were  thirsty:  so  were  they ;  if  he  were  sleepless, 
he  broke  their  rest  with  terror  and  alarm ;  if  he  was  weary, 
they  were  wearier;  he  could  last  longer,  he  knew. 

So  at  last,  as  I  have  said,  Aragon  was  tired  out,  and  com- 
pelled to  lift  the  siege  ;  then  in  retreat,  passing  through  the 
territory  of  the  Sienese,  he  entered  the  lands  of  the  Church, 
embarking  at  Civita  Vecchia  for  Gaeta,  ordering  his  army  to 
march  back  to  Naples.  Then,  Piombino  being  safe,  our  Lord 
was  ordered  to  go  to  Caravaggio,  where  the  Venetians  were 
in  trouble  before  Sforza  and  the  Milanese.  Yet  he  had  time 
to  return  to  Rimini,  whence  he  had  been  too  long  absent,  for 
the  siege  of  Piombino  had  endured  for  six  months.  Strange 
things  had  happened  in  Lombardy,  whither  on  the  2oth 
November  Sigismondo  departed  with  some  five  thousand  men. 
In  the  summer  the  Venetians,  worsted  by  Sforza,  whom  the 
Milanese  had  madly  established  as  their  Captain-General, 
had  sent  an  ambassador  to  Florence  to  urge  that  Republic,  in 
concert  with  them,  to  call  King  Ren£  into  Italy,  since  Alfonso 
was  their  common  enemy.  But  the  Florentines,  seeing  that 
all  that  Venice  desired  was  to  get  possession  of  Milan,  would 
not  agree  ;  yet  they  sent  Messer  Gianozzo  Manetti  to  Venice 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  193 

to  see  what  might  be  arranged,  for,  harassed  as  they  were 

by  Alfonso,  they  had  so  far  been  unable  to  send  the  Venetians 

any  help  at  all,  and  in  truth,  following  the  thought  of  Cosimo 

de'  Medici,  who  in  his  heart  preferred  a  Dukedom  in  Milan 

to  a  Republic,  they  secretly  desired  the  success  of  Count 

^rancesco  Sforza,  who,  as  was  plain  to  all  save  the  Milanese 

hemselves,  aimed  at  nothing  less  than  the  lordship  of  the 

ity. 

Nevertheless,  feeling  themselves  bound  by  treaty  to  help 
he  Venetians,  Alfonso  being  disposed  of  for  the  time,  and 
Venice  in  grave  danger  from  Sforza,  who  had  retaken  many 
ities  and  garrisoned  them  with  with  his  own  troops,  they 
tecided  to  send  Sigismondo  into  Lombardy,  for  Michele 
Attendolo,  the  Venetian  general,  was  a  weak  and  poor  soldier, 
nd  had  lately  lost  four  thousand  horse  and  three  thousand 
bot  in  a  marsh  on  the  way  to  relieve  Caravaggio.  It  was  in 
hese  circumstances  that  Sigismondo  entered  the  service  of 
Venice.  Nor  were  rumours  wanting  of  other  strange  happen- 
ngs ;  for  it  was  said  that  Count  Francesco  was  already  \  \ 
uspected  by  the  Milanese,  who  for  this  cause  wished  to 
ome  to  an  agreement  with  Venice ;  while  Sforza,  who  had 
card  of  it,  had  already  made,  as  we  heard,  a  secret  compact 
with  the  Republic,  by  which  he  entered  their  service. 

Meanwhile  all  the  powers  of  Italy  on  the  other  side  of 
he  Po  as  well  as  the  Venetians  had  entered  the  struggle, 
loping  to  aggrandise  themselves  at  the  expense  of  the 
3ukedom.  Then  came  news  indeed,  for  we  heard  that  the 
Count  had  allied  himself  with  Venice,  and  would  permit  the 
troops  of  the  Republic  to  enter  Crema,  and  to  recover  the 
erritory  they  had  held  about  Bergamo  and  Brescia. 

On  3oth  January  1449  then,  without  any  regard  for  the 
season,  Sigismondo  left  the  territory  of  Brescia,  where  he  was 
encamped  to  enter  Crema ;  but  he  thought  it  better  first  to 
acquire  the  other  lands  of  Giaradadda,  so  he  seized  Trevino, 


194  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

in  spite  of  the  difficulty  of  the  country,  which  the  season 
made  worse,  supplies  having  to  be  brought  by  oxen  from 
Brescia;  and  even  so  it  was  impossible  to  get  hay  for  the 
horses,  so  that  he  had  to  give  them  vine-tendrils  pounded 
with  oats. 

On  1 4th  February,  having  taken  in  the  meantime  Cara- 
vaggio,  which  had  cost  Venice  so  dear,  he  set  out  towards 
Crema,  still  held  by  the  Milanese.  Seeing  that  it  could  not 
be  taken  in  a  day,  and  that  camping  in  that  season  without 
shelter  was  not  to  be  thought  of,  he  destroyed  the  neigh- 
bouring", villages,  and,  collecting  the  beams  and  tiles  of  the 
huts,  built  a  sort  of  town  for  his  soldiers.  Thus  he  was  able 
to  lay  siege  to  Crema,  which  was  valiantly  defended  by  some 
eight  hundred  Milanese  foot,  who,  not  content  with  defence 
only,  strove  to  spike  the  engines  of  the  besiegers,  which  night 
and  day  threw  balls  into  the  city.  At  length,  after  several 
losses,  a  breach  was  made  in  the  walls,  and  Sigismondo,  con- 
sidering that  at  any  cost  the  town  must  now  be  taken,  prepared 
for  the  assault.  At  that  moment  Francesco  and  Giacomo 
Piccinino,  who  a  few  days  before  had  quitted  the  service  of 
Sforza  and  agreed  with  the  Milanese,  appeared  with  Carlo 
Gonzaga  to  succour  the  city.  It  was  already  the  middle  of 
April  when  this  happened ;  and  Sigismondo,  finding  himself 
at  a  disadvantage,  was  forced  to  retire. 

Seeing  that  Crema  had  not  come  into  their  hands  the 
Venetians,  angered  with  Sforza,  turned  to  the  Milanese,  and, 
having  found  them  willing  to  come  to  terms,  they  sent  at 
once  to  the  Count,  ordering  him  to  cease  to  attack  them. 
Sforza,  however,  was  of  another  mind  than  this,  nor  was  he 
to  be  overcome  by  imperious  advice ;  therefore  he  attacked 
the  Milanese  more  and  more  furiously,  determined  that  if 
they  would  not  surrender  to  him  they  should  die  of  hunger. 

It  was  now  December,  and  Sigismondo  after  the  retreat 
from  Crema  had  remained  at  Fontanella  all  the  summer ;  but 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  195 

now  he  was  ordered  to  move  with  all  his  foot  to  the  Valle  di 

S.  Martino,  and  Bartolomeo  Colleoni  was  sent  to  reinforce 

him  with    his    brigades.     There,  owing   partly   to    the  bad 

position  which  was  forced  upon  him,  he  was  defeated  by  the 

Count ;  at  any  rate  it  is  certain  that  the  Venetian  Provveditori, 

who  were  frightened  of  staking  all  at  a  throw,  ordered  him  to 

eturn  to  the  other  side  of  the  Adda.     Sforza  then  took 

possession  of  the  mountains  near  Brevi,  and,  encamping  there 

>n  the  Adda,  fortified  the  place.     But  Sigismondo,  by  what 

wonderful  means  I  know  not,  built  a  bridge,  and  crossed  the 

river,  forcing  the  enemy  to  dislodge,  and  encamping  there 

limself.     By  this  feat  he  enabled  Piccinino  to  join  him  with 

wo  thousand  horse  and  one   thousand  foot.     But  even  so 

Jigismondo  was  not  strong  enough  to  attack  the  Count,  who 

lad  encamped  not  far  away,  in  sight  of  the  Venetian  army,  in 

he  plain.     Time  was  wasted  in  skirmishes,  so  that  no  relief 

was  sent  to  Milan,  which  every  day  suffered  more  and  more 

rom  hunger. 

Nor  were  we  in  Rimini  in  better  case.     For  in  June  the 

>lague  had  fallen  upon  us,  killing  first  Bartolomeo  de'  Mala- 

esta,  the  Bishop  of  our  city ;  and  when  we  heard  of  this 

many  fled  to  Fano,  among  them  Madonna  Margherita  d'Este, 

wife    of   Beato    Galeotto,  and    Madonna  Violante,  wife    of 

>ignor  Domenico,  who  was  visiting  us.     Yet  Madonna  Polis- 

iena,  grieving  in  her  heart  for  many  things,  and  not  least  for 

he  quarrel  betwixt  her  lord  and  her  father,  would  not  go. 

Yet  I,  thinking  no  evil,  fled  with  the  rest ;  but  scarcely  had 

we  come  to  Fano  in  safety  when  straight  one  news  came  fast 

upon  another  of  death  and  death.     And  at  last,  at  sunset, 

came  one  riding  furiously,  who  told  us  Madonna  Polissena  is 

sick ;  then  I  set  out,  yet  I  had  not  gone  two  leagues  along 

hat  road  when  I  met  him  who  told  me  she  was  dead.     Now 

all  this  I  have  set  down  exactly,  because  many  who  hated 

lim  have  not  hesitated  to  affirm  that  Sigismondo  was  guilty 


196  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

of  the  murder  of  his  wife.  Indeed,  he  was  far  away  when 
she  died,  yet  I  have  heard  that  he  strangled  her  with  his 
neckerchief,  or,  as  some  say,  with  a  towel,  with  his  own  hands. 
Pope  Pius  II.,  ready  to  turn  the  whole  world  over  if  thereby 
he  might  lay  something  to  the  charge  of  Sigismondo,  has 
accused  him  of  this  crime,  as  of  others  of  which  he  was 
innocent 1 ;  and  men  have  not  hesitated  to  say  that  the  reason 
why  Sigismondo  did  not  attack  Sforza  on  the  Adda  in  De- 
cember was  to  be  found  in  this  murder,  asserting  that  he 
feared  if  he  fell  into  Sforza's  hands  he  would  pay  for  it  with 
his  life.  Such  is  the  world  which,  envying  a  great  man  his 
force  and  genius,  ascribes  to  him  every  abomination  that 
mediocrity  may  imagine. 

But  to  return  to  Milan,  which  was  starving.  Truly  no  way 
of  relief  seemed  open  to  them,  save  at  the  price  of  their 
liberty.  They  realised  this  at  last,  as  it  seems  by  the 
action  of  three  citizens,  who  (doubtless  in  Sforza's  pay), 
having  killed  Leonardo  Veniero,  the  Venetian  commissary, 
harangued  the  people,  pointing  out,  not  unjustly,  that  since  it 

1  There  is  not,  so  far  as  I  can  find,  a  tittle  of  evidence  against  Sigismondo. 
Clementini,  generally  credited  with  giving  a  circumstantial  account  of  the 
murder  ("Yriarte  Un  condottiere  de  XVme  siecle,"  p.  163),  writes  as  follows : 
"  Alii  due  Giugno  1449  il  secondo  giorno  della  Pentecoste  mori  Polissena 
moglie  di  Sigismondo  Pandolfo  a  figlia  del  Conte  Francesco  Sforza  d'impro- 
viso,  non  senza  sospetto  d'un  asciugatoio  involto  al  collo,  e  pero  da  Pio 
Secondo  fti  scritto,  che  di  tre  mogli  c'hebbe  Sigismondo  d'una  si  libero  col 
repudio,  dell'  altra  col  veleno,  e  della  terza  col  laccio  senza  occasione  alcuna, 
e  concorda  Paolo  Clerici  Veronese  frate  Carmelitano  in  una  diligente  Cronica 
dicendo  che  portavano  tutte  tre  le  dette  Signore  immaculata  fama  di  pudiche. 
.  .  Scrive  il  Simonetta,  che  morta  la  sudetta  Polissena,  Sigismondo  piglio  un 
altra  Polissena,  ma  forse  lo  dice  per  ischerzo  :  poiche  egli  s'accaso  con  Isotta 
degli  Atti  Riminese  gia  sua  Dama."  Clementini,  op.  ctt.  ii.  363. 

Again  Battaglini,  op.  ctt.  ii.  p.  421,  says  that  "  they  who  endeavoured  at 
all  cost  to  injure  the  fame  of  Sigismondo,  said  that  her  death  had  been  caused 
by  poison  administered  by  him.  But  I  am  of  the  opinion  of  those  who 
ascribed  her  death  to  the  plague  which  raged  in  our  parts,  and  removed  from 
the  world  our  Bishop  Bartolomeo  de'  Malatesti  ;  while  to  escape  it 
the  wife  of  the  Signor  of  Cesena,  and  the  widow  of  Beato  Galeotto  took 
refuge  in  Fano." 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  197 

was  necessary  to  fall  either  into  the  hands  of  Sforza  or  into 
those  of  Venice,  the  former  was  the  better,  since  Venice 
would  only  be  satisfied  when  she  had  reduced  them  to  the 
condition  of  vassals,  whereas  Sforza  would  for  his  own  sake, 
as  their  Lord,  maintain  their  power  and  protect  the  Dukedom. 
When  the  people,  maddened  by  hunger,  and  intolerant  only 
of  delay,  approved  these  arguments,  those  three  went  to  seek 
Sforza,  and  invited  him,  in  the  name  of  the  people,  to  enter 
the  city.  Then  that  fox  came  to  the  gates  with  all  his  army 
laden  with  food,  and,  taking  with  him  fifty  of  his  best  men, 
he  entered  Milan,  and  was  on  the  following  day  proclaimed 
Signore  e  Duca  di  Milano.  This  news  reached  Sigismondo 
in  the  mountains  of  Brian za,  where  he  awaited  orders  from 
Venice.  Immediately  he  thought  best  to  cross  the  river,  and 
destroy  his  bridges,  lest  Sforza,  to  please  the  Milanese,  should 
seek  vengeance  on  the  Venetians;  but  when  he  saw  that 
Sforza  was  content  with  his  Dukedom  and  the  Milanese 
with  their  provisions  he  encamped,  as  he  was  bidden,  in  the 
territory  of  Brescia  in  the  first  days  of  April. 

The  war  being  thus  to  all  appearance  ended,  though,  as 
we  heard,  the  Florentines,  secretly  glad  at  the  success  of 
Sforza,  had  made  alliance  with  him,  repudiating  the  Venetians, 
who,  for  their  part,  made  common  cause  with  King  Alfonso ; 
and  though  this  truly  seemed  to  promise  another  conflict 
Sigismondo's  thoughts  began  to  wander  homeward,  and  as 
ever  when  he  found  time  to  look  about  him  he  thought 
longingly  of  Pesaro,  for  above  everything  else  he  desired  to 
possess  that  city. 

Now  the  Duke  Francesco  knew  this  well  enough,  and, 
wishing  to  deprive  Venice,  if  it  were  possible,  of  so  fine  a 
general,  he  put  it  into  our  Lord's  mind  to  approach  Federigo 
of  Urbino  on  this  matter.  Sigismondo,  reminding  himself 
that  they  had  fought  for  Florence  in  the  same  army,  wrote 
to  Federigo,  complaining  that  he  had  preferred  to  put  Pesaro 


198  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

into  the  hands  of  a  stranger,  as  Alessandro  Sforza  was, 
instead  of  into  those  of  an  old  neighbour  and  relative — to  wit, 
himself.  He  regretted  this,  he  said,  and  added  that  Federigo 
must  not  think  of  Alessandro  as  grateful,  for  he  would  con- 
vince him  easily  to  the  contrary,  and  for  that  purpose  he 
now  sent  him  a  letter,  in  which  Alessandro  proposed  war 
against  Urbino;  but  this  letter  was  but  another  contrivance 
of  Duke  Francesco's. 

Federigo  on  hearing  this  went  to  Duke  Francesco  to 
complain,  but  that  fox  having  foreseen  the  way  things 
would  happen,  or  at  any  rate  seeing  now  his  way  clear, 
bade  Federigo  agree  to  help  Sigismondo  in  his  plan  for 
seizing  Pesaro,  but  not  to  do  anything  when  it  came  to 
action.  All  this  having  been  arranged  both  between  Sigis- 
mondo and  Federigo  and  that  man  and  Duke  Francesco,  our 
Lord,  falling  into  the  trap,  begged  permission  of  the  Venetians 
to  quit  their  service,  and  though  they  tried  to  dissuade  him 
by  the  most  splendid  offers,  at  last,  seeing  he  was  determined, 
they  let  him  go.  Then  Sigismondo  came  to  Rimini,  and  made 
ready,  and  at  last  sent  to  Federigo  to  tell  him  he  was  about 
to  advance,  begging  him  also  to  move  on  Pesaro.  But 
Federigo  was  at  Gubbio,  and  after  delay  sent  answer  that 
those  castles  which  Sigismondo  had  taken  in  the  beginning  of 
the  war  against  King  Alfonso  must  first  be  surrendered  to 
him.  But  our  Lord  would  not,  yet  he  promised  to  deliver 
them  when  he  was  in  Pesaro.  Then  Federigo  sent  an  am- 
bassador to  warn  us  that,  if  those  places  were  not  delivered 
presently,  he  would  advance  to  defend  Pesaro.  Suddenly  we 
heard  that  the  Duke  Francesco  was  sending  Guido  of  Assisi 
to  take  us  in  the  rear ;  therefore  we  sent  word  to  Federigo  to 
come  quickly,  or,  if  he  stayed,  at  least  to  bar  the  way  to 
these  new  forces.  But  we  got  no  answer,  and  so  Broglio 
went  with  a  few  men  to  see  what  he  could  do  with  Guido; 
and  there  the  Count  of  Piagnano  was  to  meet  him,  but  he 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  199 

came  not,  sending  instead  a  letter,  telling  us  that  Guido  had 
already  entered  the  territory  of  Urbino,  and  had  been  met 
with  every  sort  of  welcome,  and  that  he,  Piagnano,  had 
gone  to  tell  Sigismondo  of  this.  Then  our  Lord  thought  to 
take  Pesaro  alone,  hoping  for  some  sign  of  welcome  from 
within  the  city;  but  in  vain.  Therefore,  fearing  that  Federigo 
might  fall  upon  him  in  the  rear,  he  returned  to  Rimini.  Nor 
will  I  attempt  to  describe  his  rage  and  fury  at  the  treachery 
of  Urbino,  for  nothing  could  appease  the  longing  he  felt  to 
possess  himself  of  Pesaro ;  nor  could  he  forget  that  city  which 
had  so  often  been  within  his  grasp,  but  which  as  now  con- 
tinually escaped  him. 


XVIII 

IT  was  the  year  of  Jubilee.  For  the  moment  all  Italy  enj  oyed 
a  universal  peace — a  lull  in  the  storm  of  wars  that,  as  it  seems 
to  me,  were  so  surely  destroying  her.  Sigismondo  was  home 
again  after  the  treason  before  Pesaro.  And  in  Rimini  we 
rejoiced  greatly,  for  our  Court  was  gay  with  scholars,  poets, 
painters,  sculptors,  architects,  travellers,  and  ladies ;  while  the 
city  was  like  an  encampment  on  the  highway  to  Rome.  For 
there  came  and  went  continually  monks,  friars,  parties  of 
cavaliers  and  mountebanks,  travelling  musicans,  circuses,  sooth- 
sayers, penitents,  and  pilgrims ;  to-day  a  strange  company 
of  half-naked  Germans  would  pass  by  barefoot,  with  great 
clubs  in  their  hands,  singing  their  curious  songs ;  to-morrow 
a  pretty,  chattering  party  from  Venice,  courtesans  on  their 
way  to  the  Eternal  city  to  make  their  fortunes  in  this  world 
or  the  next,  to  pillage  a  Prince,  or  to  win  the  Indulgence. 

Meanwhile  in  Rimini  our  work  in  S.  Francesco  went  on 
apace,  for  neither  the  thoughts  of  war  nor  his  long  absence 
from  Rimini  had  distracted  Sigismondo  from  his  plans  for 
that  Temple.1  The  noble  chapel  he  had  built  to  S.  Sigis- 

1  Battaglini,  op.  clt.  vol.  ii.,  page  430,  seems  to  suggest  that  Sigismondo's 
first  idea  was  to  build  merely  a  chapel  in  S.  Francesco  to  S.  Sigismund. 
He  says :  "  The  example  he  [[Sigismondo^  gave  of  constructing  and 
adorning  in  our  church  of  the  Franciscans  a  very  noble  chapel  to  S.  Sigis- 
mund having  been  very  soon  imitated  by  Isotta,  who  likewise  undertook  to 
decorate  and  endow  the  Cappella  degli  Angeli,  easily  made  him  desirous  to 
renovate  the  entire  interior  of  the  building.  With  the  advantage  of  having 
known  in  Florence  the  famous  Leon  Battista  Alberti,  by  the  guidance  of 
his  art,  he  amplified  the  first  plans,  and  caused  the  erection  in  the  midst  of 
our  city  of  a  sumptuous  Temple. "  If  this  is  really  the  true  story  of  the 
genesis  of  the  Temple,  perhaps  it  was  when  the  Emperor  Sigismund  visited 
Rimini  that  Sigismondo  first  determined  to  build  the  chapel. 


2OO 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  201 

mund  in  that  church  was  by  now  almost  finished,  and 
already  Messer  Agostino  di  Duccio,  and  Messer  Simone 
Ferucci  and  others,  with  Messer  Matteo  di  Pasti,  were  busy 
with  the  church  itself.  For  Sigismondo  wished  to  show  the^ 
whole  world  that  in  Italy,  after  so  many  centuries,  we  had: 
returned  from  German  barbarism  to  the  ancient  Roman 
beauty.  And  indeed  we  had  worked  hard  to  this  end,  so 
that  the  new  Temple  might  be  as  nearly  finished  as  possible 
when  the  faithful  from  every  country  should  pass  through 
our  city  on  the  way  to  Rome  for  the  Jubilee. 

Now  Madonna  Isotta,  knowing  the  mind  of  Sigismondo 
and  the  passionate  love  he  had  for  all  beautiful  things,  and 
especially  his  hopes  with  regard  to  this  Temple,  which 
already  in  his  heart  he  thought  to  dedicate  to  her,  at  her 
own  cost  built  therein  the  chapel  of  the  Angels,  nor  was 
any  expense  spared  to  make  it  as  fair  as  possible. 

When  Sigismondo  returned  and  found  their  fair  new 
chapel  already  built,  he  sent  for  Messer  Bernardo  Ciuffagni, 
and  bade  him  carve  a  figure  of  S.  Michele,  prince  of  Arch-  j  j 
angels,  in  the  likeness  of  Madonna  Isotta,  and  he  set  this  up 
in  the  Cappella  degli  Angeli  over  the  altar;  and  at  the  same 
time  he  built  a  beautiful  tomb,  supported  by  elephants,  and 
over  it  he  set  his  shield,  with  her  sign  and  his,  intertwined,  as 
was  his  wont,  and  above  two  elephants'  heads,  very  splendid ; 
and  there  he  wrote  TEMPUS  LOQUENDI  TEMPUS  TACENDI, 
and  on  the  tomb  itself  he  carved  these  words,  DIVAE  ISOTTAE 

ARIMINENSI,  B.  M.  SACRUM  MCCCCL. 

The  chapel  itself,  which  Madonna  Isotta  had  built  and 
decorated  as  I  have  said,  is  entered,  as  are  the  others  in  the 
Temple,  under  an  arch,  supported  by  two  pillars,  while  a 
balustrade  of  marble  shuts  it  off  from  the  church.  On  the 
pillars  Messer  Sperandio  Bartolomeo  has  carved  many  bas- 
reliefs  of  putti,  with  musical  instruments ;  for  he  remembered 
that  Madonna  Isotta  was  a  poet,  and,  moreover,  that  all  the 


202  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

poets  of  Italy  sang  her  praises,  nor  could  the  Cherubim  do 
less. 

Seeing  then  this  lovely  and  gracious  chapel  almost  finished 
on  his  return  from  the  wars,  Sigismondo  redoubled  his 
efforts  to  finish  the  Temple.  A  great  quantity  of  marble 
of  different  kinds  was  gathered  from  all  parts  of  Italy,  not 
only  to  furnish  the  interior  of  the  Temple,  but  to  proceed 
with  the  exterior  also,  according  to  the  marvellous  design  of 
Messer  Leon  Battista  Alberti.  Even  the  sepulchral  stones 
from  the  old  convent  were  turned  to  this  use.  And  since 
the  people  of  Fano  had  collected  a  great  number  of  blocks 
of  marble  for  a  new  bridge  over  the  Matauro,  Sigismondo 
seized  them  all  for  his  church,  thinking  that  the  bridge 
could  be  finished  later.  Nor  was  this  all,  for  he  had  brought 
from  S.  Appollinare  di  Classe  in  Ravenna,  by  agreement  with 
the  Abate  there,  very  many  ancient  and  most  valuable  marbles, 
so  many  indeed  that  the  people  of  Ravenna  complained  to 
the  Doge,  Francesco  Foscari,  saying  that  Sigismondo  had 
despoiled  the  church.  But  the  Doge  cared  nothing  for 
this,  and  Sigismondo  sent  to  Ravenna  to  the  Abate  two 
hundred  gold  florins,  so  that  both  he  and  the  Commune  of 
Ravenna  declared  themselves  satisfied.  Then  the  Abbey  of  S. 
Appollinare  passed  into  the  hands  of  the  Cardinal  Bishop 
of  Bologna,  brother  of  the  Pope,  and  this  man  easily  gave 
our  Lord  leave  to  take  all  he  desired.  So  that  presently  one 
hundred  waggons  which  we  sent  one  night  returned  to  us  laden 
with  pillars  of  porphyry  and  serpentine.  And  indeed  since  I 
have  written  thus  much  concerning  our  Temple,  I  will  here 
set  down  what  I  have  to  say  about  it,  though  much  that 
I  shall  name  was  not  built  or  carved  or  painted  till  later ;  for 
the  church  is  not  finished  to  this  day,  nor  like  to  be  now, 
I  fear,  in  spite  of  the  eager  last  wishes  of  Sigismondo. 

The  church  that  stood  there  before  we  began  to  build 
the  Temple  was,  as  I  have  said,  a  building  of  the  Franciscans 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  203 

in  the  German  manner — that  is  to  say,  it  was  built  of  brick, 
with  narrow,  pointed  windows,  through  which  the  sun  could 
scarcely  make  its  way,  and  those  who  prayed  there  prayed, 
as  of  old,  in  darkness.  Sigismondo  wished  to  change  all  this. 
Some  say  his  first  thought  was  to  build  only  a  chapel  to  St 
Sigismund ;  but  I  speak  not  of  that — I  speak  of  the  Temple 
he  vowed  in  battle  to  Almighty  God.  This  he  desired  Messer 
Leon  Battista  _4Jb_erti  to  build  for  him.  Now  Messer  Leon 
Battista  would  gladly  have  raised  a  new  Temple,  but,  finding 
S.  Francesco  a  mere  shell,  he  proposed  to  Sigismondo  to  turn 
this  dark  place  into  a  modern  church,  in  the  new  manner, 
with  the  help  of  the  Romans,  as  the  soul  of  man  was  being 
changed  by  the  same  means.  The  idea  pleased  Sigismondo, 
who  remembered  that  already  many  of  his  ancestors  lay 
buried  there,  and  when  he  saw  Messer  Leon  Battista's  de- 
signs he  was  even  more  satisfied.  For  he  beheld  veils  were 
on  Olympus,  a  Temple  of  the  Gods,  with  a  dome  that  soared 
into  heaven,  as  fair  as  that  of  Messer  Brunellesco,  and  then 
there  were  pillars  and  round  arches  of  marble  in  the  manner 
of  the  ancients,  and  all  was  fair  and  lovely  after  their  fashion. 
But  this  vision  was  not  to  be  achieved  in  a  day. 
It  took  many  years  to  build  the  fagade,  that  beautiful 
gateway  modelled  after  our  Arch  of  Augustus,  with  two 
smaller  but  similar  arches  on  a  high  platform  or  plank  that 
ran  round  the  whole  church,  and  between  these  and  on  either 
side  great  pillars.  The  same  round  arches  of  marble  were 
to  surround  the  Temple,  encasing  it,  as  it  were,  in  an  outer 
pierced  casket,  and  under  these,  tombs  were  to  be  placed  on 
the  platform,  to  contain  the  ashes  of  those  philosophers  and 
poets  who  gathered  round  our  Lord.  For  indeed  this 
Temple  was,  as  it  were,  a  monument  to  Sigismondo  and 
Isotta.  If  the  spirit  of  Alberti  impressed  every  part,  it  was 
the  genius  of  Sigismondo  that  gave  it  life  ;  and  there  again 
and  again  around  the  marble  platform,  in  a  frieze  of  dancing 


204  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

putti,  Messer  Matteo  da  Pasti  carved  his  head  as  in  a  medal, 
and  between  these  medallions  others  bearing  his  shield,  and 
others  bearing  his  sign,  in  the  which  the  S  of  Sigismondo 
enfolded  the  I  of  Isotta,  while  there  were  beautiful  and  mar- 
vellous leaves,  flowers,  and  devices ;  and  often  you  might  find 
the  elephant  and  often  too  the  rose.  It  was  a  Temple  built 
to  the  Ever-living  God,  who  hides  Himself  in  the  beauty  of 
the  world,  whom  men  called  Zeus,  whom  we  call  the  Father, 
who  is  to  be  found  in  the  Philosophy  of  Plato  as  well  as  in 
the  Gospel  of  Jesus,  but  whom  it  is,  as  Pico  has  lately  told, 
easier  to  love  than  to  utter  in  words.  And  if  Sigismondo 
wrote  Madonna  Isotta's  name  under  the  pediment  of  this 
church — DIVAE  ISOTTAE  SACRUM — he  set  his  own  there  no 
less  in  antique  characters  very  fair  to  see — SIGISMUNDUS 

PANDULFUS    MALATESTA    PAN    V.    F    ANNO    GRATIS    MCCCCL. 

This  Temple  raised  to  the  Ever-living  God  was  also  to  be 
the  monument  and  symbol  of  his  life.  There,  within,  he 
himself  was  to  be  buried,  and  Madonna  Isotta,  whom  he  had 
loved;  there  too  lay  his  ancestors,  and  many  holy  men  who 
had  been  attached  to  his  family ;  while  around  them,  in  those 
tombs  under  the  arches  without,  the  philosophers,  artists,  and 
soldiers  of  his  court  were  to  sleep  in  death,  even  as  they  had 
wakened  in  life,  for  his  glory  and  for  witnesses  of  his  dream. 
Without  therefore  the  Temple  had  a  certain  beautiful 
and  grand  simplicity  difficult  enough  to  describe ;  how  then 
shall  I  fare  when  I  attempt  to  speak  of  the  interior,  that 
marvellous  fair  Temple,  or  palace  was  it,  clothed  with  many 
sorts  of  marble,  with  pillars  of  porphyry  and  stones  of  ser- 
pentine, with  innumerable  sculptures  and  statues  and  frescoes? 
for  the  beauty  and  the  richness  are  beyond  my  power  to  tell. 
Everywhere  the  great  pillars  were  overlaid  with  marbles,  with 
bas-reliefs,  wrought  magically  by  Messer  Agostino  with  azure 
and  gold.  Balustrades  of  marble  divided  the  chapels  of  the 
nave  from  the  church,  and  on  these  many  laughing  putti 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 


205 


were  to  stand,  holding  shields,  playing  music,  or  singing  or 
dancing.  And  everywhere  above  and  between  the  arches 
the  marble  was  wrought  into  every  sort  of  device — here  the 
acanthus,  there  a  sheaf  of  corn,  here  the  shield  of  Sigis- 
mondo,  there  the  roses  of  Isotta,  a  mask  or  an  antique 
diadem. 

As  one  came  into  the  church,  on  the  right,  built  into  the 
wall,  Sigismondo  had  caused  his  own  tomb  to  be  made,  after 
the  design  of  Messer  Leon  Battista,  whom  he  bade  put  his 
own  portrait  beside  that  of  our  Lord,  over  the  tomb.  Alas ! 
that  tomb  which  Messer  Leon  Battista  designed  was  never 
really  built  in  its  completeness,  the  design  being  carried  out 
in  part  only  by  Messer  Bernardo  Ciuffagni.  On  the  sarco- 
phagus was  graven,  in  antique  letters,  this  inscription:  SUM 

SIGISMUNDUS     MALATESTE     E     SANGINE     GENTIS     PANDULFUS 

GENITOR  PATRIA  FLAMiNiA  EST.  Later  we  carved  the  rest  in 
smaller  letters,  as  he  bade  us,  so  that  all  might  see  and  read 
the  boast  that  I  will  not  write  here. 

Of  the  chapels,  and  it  is  here  that  I  feel  my  feebleness, 
the  first  on  the  right  hand  is  that  which  our  Lord  built  to 
his  patron,  S.  Sigismund,  King  of  Burgundy.  Over  the  altar 
you  may  see  the  statue  of  the  king,  seated  on  the  elephants 
of  Sigismondo,  between  two  Greek  pillars,  over  which,  on  the 
architrave,  is  a  frieze  of  children's  heads  and  flowers,  and 
above,  in  the  arch,  the  shield  of  Sigismondo — all  after  the 
design  of  Messer  Leon  Battista ; l  while  on  either  side  are 
carved  the  initials,  intertwined,  of  Sigismondo  and  Isotta. 
On  the  walls  you  may  see  great-winged  angels  holding  a 
canopy,  and  these  were  made  by  Messer  Agostino  di  Duccio ; 
and  under  the  canopy,  to  the  left,  a  beautiful  bronze  grille, 
made  by  Messer  Maso  di  Bartolomeo,2  through  which  you 

1  Possibly  after  the  design  of  Alberti,  but  spoiled  certainly  in  carrying 
it  out  by  Bernardo  CiufFagni. 

2  Now  destroyed. 


206  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

may  look  into  the  chapel  of  the  relics.  The  balustrade,  con- 
sisting of  three  pillars,  on  which  putti  stood,  with  the  shield 
of  Sigismondo  and  Isotta,  and  a  marvellous  design  of  inter- 
laced vases  filled  with  roses,  and  above,  on  one  side,  the  rose 
of  Isotta,  and  on  the  other  the  S  and  I  intertwined  are  from 
the  hand  of  Messer  Leon  Battista  also.  The  pillars  which 
divide  this  chapel — the  oldest  in  the  church — from  the  next, 
rest  on  the  backs  of  two  elephants  in  black  marble ;  they  are 
divided  into  compartments,  in  which  Messer  Bernardo  Ciuffagni 
has  placed  bas-reliefs  of  the  Theological  and  Cardinal  virtues ; 
but  all  that  Messer  Bernardo  did  was  fulfilled  with  the  spirit 
of  the  past  age,  and  was  not  worthy  to  be  named  beside  the 
other  work  here. 

The  chapel  next  to  that  of  St  Sigismund  was,  as  I  have 
said,  the  Chapel  of  the  Relics.  Here  at  this  time  there  were 
some  few  holy  things,  not  worthy  of  much  attention,  but 
later,  as  I  shall  relate,  we  placed  there  some  precious 
things  from  Greece.  This  chapel,  which  stood  between  that 
of  S.  Sigismund  and  that  of  the  Angels,  which  was  Madonna 
Isotta's,  was  closed  by  a  wall,  so  that  it  could  not  be  seen 
from  the  church.  In  this  wall  Messer  Matteo  da  Pasti, 
directed  by  Messer  Leon  Battista,  built  a  door,  one  of  the 
loveliest  in  Italy,  as  I  have  thought.  On  either  side,  on  the 
doorway,  he  carved  three  prophets,  and  between  them 
medallions  and  coats,  while  above,  on  the  lintel,  he  made, 
in  a  medallion,  an  allegory  of  Virtu,  Force,  seated  on  two 
elephants,  breaking  a  column — thus  copying  one  of  the  medals 
he  made  for  Sigismondo.  Then,  in  the  triangles  formed  by 
the  arch,  he  carved  two  putti  astride  dolphins,  and  below, 
the  shield  of  Sigismondo. 

Within,  in  1451,  Messer  Piero  di  Borgo  S.  Sepolcro1 
painted  Sigismondo  kneeling  before  S.  Sigismund  of 
Burgundy;  while  behind  him  lie  two  hounds,  and  in  a  little 

1  Piero  della  Francesca. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  207 

medallion  without  the  picture  you  may  see  the  Rocca,  which 
was  so  famous.  This  Messer  Piero,  by  the  way,  was  a 
strange,  indomitable  fellow,  more  interested  in  mathematics 
than  in  philosophy  or  literature.  He  spoke  much  of  a  new 
science  he  had  found,  which  was  to  revolutionise  painting. 
Later  he  worked  for  Federigo  of  Urbino. 

I  come  now  to  speak  of  the  chapel  dedicated  by  Madonna 
Isotta  to  S.  Michele  Arcangiolo.  The  tomb  which  Sigis- 
mondo  built  there,  from  the  hands  of  Messer  Bernardo 
CiuiFagni  I  have  described  already ;  but  how  may  I  hope  to 
describe  eighteen  bas-reliefs1  made  by  Messer  Sperandio 
Bartolomeo?  They  show  a  company  of  angels — angels  or 
genii,  are  they  ? — playing  instruments  of  music,  organs,  horns, 
tambours,  viols,  harps,  cymbals,  and  flutes ;  some  are  seated, 
some  dancing;  here  two  sing  lustily  together,  clashing  the 
cymbals  ;  there  one  shouts  in  welcome  with  uplifted  hand, 
proffering  the  rose.  And  indeed  this  joyful  company  of 
children  is  but  the  herald,  as  it  were,  of  a  whole  world  of 
glad  immortal  creatures,  gods  and  heroes,  that  Messer 
Simone  Fiorentini  and  Messer  Agostino  di  Duccio  have 
carved  for  the  pillars  of  the  next  chapel,  that  of  S.  Girolamo, 
and  for  those  two  on  the  other  side  of  the  nave,  the  Cappella 
della  Madonna  dell'  Acqua,  and  the  Cappella  del  Beato 
Galeotto.  For  in  the  Cappella  di  S.  Girolamo  we  come 
upon  the  very  immortal  gods  that  have  fled  away  from  the 
earth,  but  have  never  altogether  forsaken  it,  remaining  with 
us  still  as  the  stars,  the  planets,  and  the  moon,  beautiful 

1  Yriarte  (op.  cit.  page  215)  was  the  first,  so  far  as  I  know,  to  name  the 
probable  author  of  these  beautiful  sculptures,  so  reminiscent  of  Luca  della 
Robbia.  The  artist  has  written  Spera  indeo  on  the  bas-relief  of  the  angels 
playing  on  the  organ  ;  and  this  may  well  be  a  play  upon  his  own  name.  At 
the  same  time  the  verse  of  Sigismondo  was  well  known  to  this  artist,  whoever 
he  may  have  been,  and,  seeing  that  he  was  at  work  in  the  chapel  of  Isotta, 
he  may  have  recalled  Sigismondo's  poem  (see  below,  page  209),  and,  seeing 
his  success,  carved  Hope  in  God. 


208  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

always  as  of  old.  Here  is  Diana  on  her  high  triumphal  car, 
drawn  by  the  beautiful  horses  of  the  gods,  the  crescent 
moon  in  her  immortal  hand ;  Mercurius,  all  plumed,  holding 
the  snaky  caduceus,  a  viol  in  his  hand,  and  under  his  strange 
Eastern  head-dress  his  gold  locks  tumble  on  his  shoulders ; 
here  Venus  Aphrodite  comes  over  the  sea,  naked  and  beauti- 
ful, drawn  by  swans  in  her  car  of  silver,  and  in  her  hand 
is  a  shell  from  the  foam  of  Cypris;  there  Saturn  stands, 
with  a  sickle  in  his  hand,  about  to  kill  his  own  son;  here 
Mars,  on  a  great  scythed  chariot,  drawn  by  horses,  with  up- 
lifted sword  threatens  the  world;  while  great  Jove,  the 
eagle  crouched  on  his  serene  head,  for  ever  forbears  to  hurl 
the  ready  thunderbolt.  Nor  is  this  all,  for  then  come  three 
lesser  gods,  the  Heavenly  Twins,  Cancer,  the  Crab ;  Scorpio 
and  the  rest,  among  them,  a  great  goat,  wonderful  to  behold, 
and  Eolus  the  wind,  in  which  last  you  may  find  the  elephant 
of  Sigismondo ;  and  there,  since  it  was  in  the  sign  our  Lord 
was  born,  you  may  see  Rimini  carved,  most  wonderful,  with 
a  ship  a-sail  nearing  port,  and  the  waves  of  the  great  sea. 
And  if  you  think  this  strange  company  for  a  church,  why  I 
would  answer  it  was  Madonna  Isotta  herself  who  devised  it, 
whose  Temple  it  was  after  all.  For  she  remembered  the 
verses  of  Sigismondo,  which  years  ago  had  set  all  Rimini 
singing  in  her  honour,  and  which  she,  thinking  ever  of  his 
fame,  wished  to  be  carved  in  marble,  that  those  who  could 
not  read  might  understand,  and  they  who  could  not  hear 
might  see.  And  truly  I  have  kept  them  till  now,  as  I  pro- 
mised, so  that  he  who  chances  upon  this  manuscript 
may,  since  may  be  he  cannot  see  the  works,  hear  the 
words  at  least,  and  be  convinced  for  their  sake  of  the 
very  beauty  of  the  marbles,  beggaring  description,  moving 
the  heart  as  though  they  had  been  dug  up  in  Greece 
rather  than  carved  here  in  Italy  by  those  masters  I  have 
named. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  209 

"  Succurime  per  Dio  chio  son  a  mal  porto 1 
Presso  al  ultimo  giorno  di  mia  vita 
Senza  sperar  di  salute  conforto 
Si  al  aiutorio  de  costo  no  me  aita 
Che  impetei  gratia  al  tuo  alto  Valor. 
Morte  me  affresta  et  la  cruel  ferita 
Simile  aquel  ch'al  ultimo  dolore 
Semp'  se  vede  la  morte  che  aspetta. 
Se  recommanda  a  voi  con  lieto  core 
O  Voi  che  sete  d' angelica  setta 
Venite  in  mio  favore  e  removete 
Amor  eh  nol  dime  crudel  Vendetta. 
O  alti  Celi :  avy  sette  pianete 
L'uno  e  Mercuric  :  et  tu  Vener  bella 
Hor  me  aiutate  se  potenza  havete. 
O  relucente  sol  piu  ch'altra  Stella 
Giove  :  e  Marte  :  et  ancho  tu  Saturno 
Pregate  quella  chel  mio  cor  martella. 
Voi  che  girate  per  el  Cel  dintorno  2 

1  It  is  again  to  M.  Yriarte  (op.  cit.  p.  389)  that  we  owe  the  discovery  of 

these  verses  and  of  others  omitted  in  the  collection  of  Sigismondo  Malatesta's 

verse  :  "  Sonetti  riferiti  al  nome  di  Sigismondo  de'  Malatesti  da  un  codice  della 

Riccardiana,"  collected  by  Signer  Bilanciioi,  and  published  in  1860  at  Ravenna. 

2  Literally: 

Help  me,  for  God's  sake,  for  I  am  in  evil  case 

Near  the  last  day  of  my  life 

Without  hope  of  salvation 

Unless  to  save  me  I  am  helped 

So  that  from  thy  high  worth  I  may  obtain  favour. 

Death  grasps  me  and  the  cruel  wound, 

As  one  who  is  in  his  last  agony 

Always  sees  death  watching, 

Whether  he  appeals  to  you  with  joyful  heart. 

O  ye  that  are  of  the  angelic  band 

Come  to  my  aid  and  move 

Love !   declare  no  cruel  vengeance  on  me. 

O  ye  lofty  heavens,  ye  have  seven  planets 

One  is  Mercury  :  and  thou  fair  Venus 

May  ye  both  now  help  me  if  ye  have  power. 

O  sun,  more  resplendent  than  any  other  star, 

Jupiter,  and  Mars,  and  thou  also,  O  Saturn 

Entreat  her  who  is  bruising  my  heart. 

Ye  who  march  round  the  heavens 


210  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

Dodici  signi  del  Cielo  inuoco  ancho 

Al  aiutorio  mio  senza  sogiorno. 

Montone :  il  Toro  :   Geminy :  el  Gramcho 

Leo  cum  Virgo  :  Libra  el  Scorpione 

Aiutatime  p  dio  chio  vengo  mancho. 

Et  similmente  cum  dolce  sermone 

In  voco  Sagiptario  :  Aquario  e  Pesce 

E  Capricorno  a  la  mia  defensione. 

Voi  altre  stelle  anchor  seno  ve  in  Cresse 

Aiutatemi  aluno  et  1'altro  polo 

Seno  che  lalma  del  mio  corpo  nesse. 

O  Vaghi  Ocelli  che  andati  a  volo 

Per  verdi  Kami  cantando  adilecto 

Pieta  vi  prenda  del  mio  grave  dolo. 

Andati  al  alba  al  mio  focoso  lecto 

Ponitivi  accantar  su  la  litiera 

Che  la  dolceccia  passa  il  duro  pecto. 

Che  questa  Rosa  nata  in  primavera 

Pregate  che  per  lei  morto  non  caggi 

Che  la  mia  vita  per  lei  si  dispera. 

O  animal  domestichi  e  silvaggi l 


1  Ye  twelve  signs  of  the  heaven,  ye  too  I  invoke 
To  help  me,  that  am  without  a  resting  place. 
Aries,  Taurus,  Gemini,  and  Cancer, 
Leo  with  Virgo,  Libra  and  Scorpio 
Help  me  for  God's  sake  for  I  am  in  need. 
And  likewise  with  sweet  speech 
I  invoke  Sagittarius,  Aquarius  and  Pisces 
And  Capricornus  to  my  defence. 
Ye  other  stars  if  there  be  any  in  the  universe 
Help  me,  from  one  to  the  other  pole 
Or  my  soul  will  quit  my  body. 

0  beautiful  birds  that  flutter 

Through  the  green  branches  singing  delightfully, 

May  pity  seize  you  for  my  heavy  grief. 

Go  at  dawn  to  my  warm  bed 

Place  yourselves  and  sing  on  the  bedstead 

So  that  the  sweetness  may  pierce  the  hard  heart. 

Pray  that  for  the  sake  of  this  Rose  born  in  the  spring 

1  may  not  die, 

For  my  life  on  her  account  is  despaired  of. 
O  all  ye  tame  and  wild  animals 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  211 

Veniti  in  mio  favore  e  mio  camino 
Veni  siate  a  me  fidel  missaggi. 
E  devante  acostei  col  capo  clino 
Poi  lapgate  con  acti  e  con  cigny 
Che  haggia  pieta  del  suo  servo  topino. 
O  Spreti  che  gia  fusti  in  questi  regny 
Voi  ciaschaduno  dalo  Amor  pcosso 
Siatime  gratiosi  et  poi  benigny 
Se  con  vostro  gar  non  son  riscosso. 
Amor  crudele  in  terra  mi  dispone 
Che  ma  conducto  a  tal  che  piu  noposso. 
O  Vecchio  Anticho  Savio  Salomone 
Che  Vincto  del  amor  duna  pagana 
E  1'idoli  adorasti  in  ginocchione  : 
O  Hercules  a  cui  fo  tanto  Fana 
La  bella  Zola  che  te  fi  portare 
La  Rocca  a  lato  epoi  filar  la  loma : 
O  tu  Jiacobbe  che  andasti  a  parare 
Sette  e  sette  anny  p'haver  Rachele 
Tanti  del  padre  egli  armenti  guardare  :  1 

1  Come  in  my  cause  and  on  my  account 
Be  faithful  to  me  in  my  trouble. 
And  before  her,  with  bowed  heads, 
With  act  and  gestures  greet  her 
That  she  may  have  pity  on  her  poor  servant. 
O  spirits  that  were  once  in  these  realms 
Each  of  you  by  Love  shaken 
Be  gracious  and  kind  to  me 
If  by  chance  through  your  aid  I  may  be  rescued. 
Cruel  Love  on  earth  controls  me 
Love  who  has  brought  me  to  such  a  pass 
That  I  can  no  more  bear  it. 
O,  old,  ancient,  wise  Solomon, 
Thou  that  wast  bound  by  Love  for  an  idolatress, 
And  worshipped  idols  on  thy  knees : 
O  Hercules  to  whom  so  much  suffering 
Came,  from  the  fair  lole  who  made  thee  bear 
The  distaff  beside  thee  and  then  wind  the  wool :  * 
O  Jacob  who  didst  serve 
Seven  and  seven  years  for  Rachel 

*  The  inaccuracies  are  very  characteristic  of  the  fifteenth  century,  as  is 
the  extraordinary  and  delightful  pell-mell  of  Pagan,  Jew,  and  Christian. 


212  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

O  re  David  che  amor  te  fe  credule 
Per  Betzabe  morir  facesti  Uria 
Che  ti  fo  semper  Cavalier  fidele  : 
O  tu  Sansone  a  cui  fu  tant  o  ria 
La  Nova  Sposa  quando  p.  Capegly 
Ti  privo  de  la  forza  o  gagliardia : 
O  Piramo  che  a  Tisbe  alciasti  i  Cygli 
Volti  nel  sangue  luno  et  laltro  insemi 
Che  i  bianchi  Zelfi  diventar  vermigli : 
O  Tu  Paris  Hellena  p  cuy  geme 
Troya  disfacta  el  re  Priamo  e  morto 
Multi  altri  ch£  p  voy  la  terra  p  me  : 
O  tu  Sidona  Dal  tristo  consorto 
Per  huission  del  tuo  morto  marito 
Amor  liale  poi  ti  fe  gran  Torto : 
O  Tu  Dido  col  ferro  polito 
Passati  el  Biancho  pecto  el  caldo  core 
Dapoi  che  Enea  Troyano  fo  partito : 
O  tu  Narcisso  del  vago  Splendore 
Le  tue  Belleze  mirasti  a  la  fonte 
Te  inamorasti  et  convertisti  in  fiore :  l 


1  Guarding  many  of  her  father's  droves : 
O  King  David  whom  Love  made  cruel, 
Who  for  Bathsheba  didst  put  to  death  Uriah 
Though  he  was  a  knight  ever  faithful  to  thee : 
O  Samson  to  whom  the  newly  wedded  was  so  cruel 
When  cutting  thy  locks  she  stole  away  thy  strength : 
O  Pyramus  who  didst  raise  thine  eyes  to  Thisbe, 
So  that  ye  both  fell  in  each  other's  blood, 
And  the  white  mulberries  became  red  : 
O  Paris,  and  thou  Helen,  for  whom 

Troy  groaned  and  was  undone,  for  whom  King  Priam  is  dead 
And  many  another  who  through  you  presses  the  earth : 
O  Sidona  of  unhappy  company 
Whom  for  cause  of  thy  dead  husband 
Loyal  love  greatly  wronged  : 
O  Dido,  who  bright  iron 

Thrust  through  thy  white  breast  and  burning  heart 
When  Trojan  ./Eneas  was  gone : 
O  Narcissus,  of  shining  loveliness, 
Who  didst  gaze  upon  thine  own  beauty  at  the  fountain 
Till  thou  wast  enamoured  and  changed  into  a  flower  : 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  213 

O  Disperata  philis  che  nel  Monte 
A  T  arbor  te  impicasti  per  dispecto 
Per  la  tardanza  del  duo  Demophonte  : 
O  tu  Leandro  per  cui  dare  effecto 
Agli  ultimi  disir  damor  Notando 
Ne  la  rena  del  Mar  facesti  Lecto  : 
O  tu  Medea  che  provaste  quando 
Desti  a  Jason  el  bel  monton  del  oro 
Lasasti  el  padre  vechio  Lachrymando  : 
Regina  Phasiphen  che  bel  Lavoro 
Festi  formare  una  vaccha  di  Legno 
Per  prender  seme  dal  amato  Toro : 
O  Sylla  a  cui  Minos  venne  a  sdegno 
Per  el  Terribil  Don  che  le  donasti 
La  Testa  de  Re  Niso  del  tuo  regno : 
O  Tu  Arriana  che  Theseo  Campasti 
Dal  fiero  Minotauro  che  in  prima 
Multi  altri  che  ne  have  va  coi  dente  guasti : 
Ancor  tu  Fedra  invoco  in  questa  crima 
Con  tuo  parlare  e  tue  querele  false  1 

1  O  desperate  Phyllis  who  on  the  Mountain 
Didst  hang  thyself  on  a  tree  for  the  lateness  of  thy  Demophon  :  * 
O  Leander  who  to  enjoy 
The  last  desire  of  Love,  swimming, 
In  the  sands  of  the  sea  madest  thy  bed : 
O  Medea  who  wast  glad 

When  thou  gavest  to  Jason  the  fair  Golden  Fleece, 
Leaving  thy  old  weeping  father : 
O  Queen  Pasiphae  who  madest  fair 
A  cow  of  wood 

To  take  seed  from  the  beloved  Bull : 
O  Scylla  of  whom  Minos  was  disdainful 
For  the  terrible  gift  thou  gavest  him — 
The  head  of  King  Nisus  of  thy  kingdom  : 
O  Ariadne  who  didst  deliver  Theseus 
From  the  fierce  Minotaur  which  before 
Had  torn  many  and  many  with  its  teeth : 
Thee  also  Phaedra  I  invoke  in  this  my  plight, 
With  thy  speaking  and  thy  harsh  plaints 
Hippolitus  made  no  account  of  love  : 

'f  Cf.  Herro  Dido  Laudamia,  all  y-fere 

And  Phyllis,  hanging  for  thy  Demophoun.  .  .  . 

Chaucer  :  Ballade  To  His  Lady. 


214  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

Ippolito  d'amor  non  fece  Stima  : 
O  tu  Tristano  Aisotta  a  cui  non  valse 
Tenere  amore  nelli  bracce  Strette 
Che  ti  fe  poi  provare  amare  salse : 
O  tu  Petrarcha  che  tanti  sonetti 
Festi  pe  Laura  tua  si  bel  dire 
Cha  ti  fu  fama  a  gli  amanti  dilecti : 
Tutti  vi  prego  p.  guelli  Martiri 
Che  mi  provassi  el  di  chiare  Amore 
Prima  che  Morte  amor  fesce  apartir 
Ingionochione  andate  al  mio  S ignore 
Por  la  Pregate  con  ingegno  et  arte 
Chaggia  pieta  di  me  suo  Servidor 
O  lengue  vuy  che  sete  in  dy  parte 
Venire  a  me  voy  non  Sarete  lenti 
Siche  Soccorso  io  habia  in  ogne  parte 
Ancora  voi  maestri  d'instromenti 
In  el  Cantar  voy  non  Sariti  muti 
Siche  di  farme  morir  Costei  sipenta 
Arpe  Sonate  Citere  e  Lauti 
E  Pifari  e  trombetti  de  Lamagna1 


1  O  Tristram  whom  it  availed  not 
To  hold  thy  love  Isotta  in  thy  arms 
For  it  made  thee  prove  the  bitterness  of  loving : 
O  Petrarch  who  so  many  sonnets 
Made  for  Laura,  that  thy  beautiful  words 
Won  thee  fame  from  delighted  lovers : 
O  all  ye  Martyrs,  I  pray  ye 
That  I  may  prove  this  Love 
Before  Death  makes  Love  quit  me. 
On  your  knees  go  to  my  Lord 
Then  pray  with  skill  and  art 
That  he  may  have  pity  on  me  his  servant. 
O  double  Tongues 
You  will  not  be  slow  to  come  to  me 
So  that  I  may  have  help  on  every  side, 
Also  ye  masters  of  instruments, 
Ye  too  will  not  be  mute 

That  she  may  repent  of  bringing  me  to  my  death. 
Harps,  Cymbals,  Citers,  and  Lutes, 
And  Flutes  and  Trumpets.  .   .   . 
So  that  with  your  sound  of  love  ye  may  help  me. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  215 

Siche  Col  vostro  son  damor  maiuti 
E  poi  Vi  prego  aciascuna  Compagna 
Che  in  ver  di  me  Tamor  sia  nascosa 
Che  di  farme  morir  lalma  si  lagna  : 
E  poi  vi  prego  per  Ciascaduna  cosa 
Chi  po  humiliare  il  suo  cor  crudo 
Che  in  ver  me  sia  benigna  e  gratiosa 
E  ne  le  braza  mi  racoglia  Nudo."  l 

Nor  were  those  sculptures  so  wonderfully  setting  forth 
the  verses  of  Sigismondo  all  that  was  carved  in  that  chapel, 
for  there  was  there  besides  a  most  beautiful  frieze  of  putti 
running  and  bearing  garlands,  supporting  now  the  shield  of 
Sigismondo,  now  the  enfolded  S  and  I.  And  truly,  who  can 
tell  all  the  wonders  of  that  place  ? 

Opposite  this  chapel,  truly  the  richest  in  the  whole 
Temple,  is  the  Cappella  di  S.  Gaudenzio,  and  on  the  pillars 
there  Messer  Agostino  di  Duccio  has  carved  eighteen  bas- 
reliefs  of  the  Arts  and  Sciences,  and  some  of  these — to  wit, 
Medicine  and  Botany — are  so  lovely  that  you  might  think 
Pheidias  himself  had  made  them ;  and  indeed  many  deceived 
themselves  later,  thinking  that  Sigismondo  brought  them 
from  Greece.  But  it  is  not  so ;  for  though  he  brought  back 
many  rare  and  precious  things,  these  were  made  in  Italy,  and 
by  Messer  Agostino,  in  whom  at  that  moment,  and  in  those 
two  pieces  I  have  named,  certainly  the  spirit  of  the  ancients 
has  come  to  life  again.  And  though  all  are  very  fair  and 
lovely,  all  were  not  like  these  two;  for  as  the  flowers  close 
on  a  day  of  cloud,  so  do  the  hearts  of  men,  and  especially 


1  And  then  I  beg 

That  towards  me  love  may  be  secret 
So  that  I  may  not  die. 
And  then  I  beg, 

Whoever  can,  to  soften  her  hard  heart 
That  she  may  be  kind  and  gracious 
And  her  arms  be  round  about  me." 


216  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

of  artists,  so  that  if  the  sun  shine  not  in  their  hearts  some 
blossom  closes,  a  certain  rare  delight,  virtue,  force,  or  beauty, 
I  know  not  well  what,  passes  from  their  work  for  that  day ; 
and  with  me  too  out  of  the  sun  too  often  comes  the  diffi- 
cult page. 

It  was  in  the  next  chapel  that  Sigismondo  laid  the  holy 
dust  of  Beato  Galeotto,  with  that  of  Madonna  Ginevra  d'Este 
and  Madonna  Polissena  Sforza,  and  here  too  he  laid  to  sleep 
for  ever  his  two  little  sons,  their  children.1  And  it  may  be 
that  it  was  the  remembrance  of  them  that  caused  him  to  bid 
Messer  Simone  Fiorentino  to  carve  for  the  pillars  of  this 
chapel  eighteen  bas  -  reliefs  of  children  playing,  delight- 
ful to  behold.  For  in  one  place  they  dance  around  a 
gushing  fountain,  laughing  at  one  another,  and  again  they 
play  together  in  the  sea  or  ride  on  dolphins,  and  then  they 
play  with  the  rose  of  Isotta,  and  here  they  hide  behind  the 
letters  of  Sigismondo's  name.  And  here  I  say  again  that 
if  you  should  think  it  impossible  that  so  many  splendid  works 
were  accomplished  in  so  short  a  time,  for  the  first  stone  of 
the  chapel  of  S.  Sigismund  was  only  laid  in  1445,  I  repeat 
they  were  not,  but  rather  through  many  years,  these  reliefs, 
for  instance,  being  finished  early  in  1458. 

The  next  chapel,  like  to  the  chapel  of  the  relics  opposite 
to  it  (and  indeed  all  the  chapels  correspond  thus  as  it  were, 
both  in  their  decoration  and  in  a  more  profound  way  too,  for 
if  he  loved  Isotta,  those  whom,  as  he  was  assured,  he  might 
not  love,  Ginevra  and  Polissena  lay  in  the  chapel  opposite),  is 
closed.  Yet  are  the  carvings  there  fair  and  lovely :  Samson 
and  Saul,  David  and  Joshua,  with  the  escutcheon  too,  and  the 
portrait  of  Sigismondo  crowned  with  laurels. 

But  it  is  in  the  next  chapel  nearest  to  his  own  tomb  that 
Sigismondo  set  the  tomb  of  his  ancestors,  for  indeed  he 
caused  all  that  dust,  holier  than  any  relic  in  his  eyes,  to  be 
1  No  longer  there,  for  another's  dead  have  usurped  their  grave. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  217 

collected  into  one  sarcophagus,  so  that  all  those  of  his  race 
who  went  before  him  in  the  lordship  of  Rimini  might  lie  in- 
dissolubly  locked  together  in  the  grave  he  had  made  for 
them;  and  this  he  set  in  the  oldest  and  holiest  part  of  the 
church,  the  Cappella  della  Madonna  dell'  Acqua,  where  an 
ancient  image  of  the  Blessed  Virgin  Mary  has  stood  for 
my  centuries. 

Now  the  sarcophagus  that  was  made  by  Messer  Agostino 
li  Duccio  for  the  ashes  of  the  ancestors  of  Sigismondo  is  of 
rreek  marble,  very  precious,  and  certainly  one  of  the  wonders 
>f  the  church.  For  there  Messer  Agostino  has  carved  two 
bas-reliefs,  one  representing  Pallas  in  her  Temple,  surrounded 
by  all  the  race  of  the  Malatesti,1  and  there  before  all,  clad  in 
mail,  his  sword  in  his  hand,  stands  our  Lord.  And  every- 
where in  the  Temple,  most  wonderfully  carved  with  all  manner 
of  fair  pillars  and  arches,  in  every  place  you  may  see  the 
name  of  Isotta,  and  the  initial  of  Sigismondo  enfolded  by  hers. 
Nor  is  the  other  relief  less  wonderful,  for  there  you  may  see 
the  Triumph  of  our  Lord,  who  rides  on  a  Triumphal  car 
dragged  by  four  horses  and  decked  with  captives,  under  a 
Roman  arch  lovely  with  pillars  and  crusted  with  the  roses  of 
Isotta  and  his  name  and  hers ;  while  far  away  rises  a  fortress — 
or  a  city,  is  it  ? — Rocca  Contrada,  which  he  took  so  valiantly, 
or  Urbino  itself,  which  but  just  escaped  him.  Then  between 
these  two  reliefs  you  may  read  in  antique  letters  this 
inscription : 


S1GISMVNDVS 
PANDVLFVS 
MALATESTA 
PANDVLFI.  F. 
INGENTIBVS 
MERITIS  PROBIT 


1  "Depuis  Scipion  1'Africain,"  Yriarte,  op.  ctt.  p.  224. 


218  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

ATIS.  FORTITV 
DINIS.  QVE.  ILLVS 
TRI.  GENERIS.  SVO 
MAIORIBVS  PO 
STERIS.  QVE. 


Such  was  the  Temple  that  Sigismondo  raised  to  the  Ever- 
living  God,  who  in  all  ages  and  in  different  lands  giveth  life 
to  the  world;  to  the  Divine  Isotta,  whom  he  loved,  and 
called  the  Honour  of  Italy;  and  to  himself,  that  his  glory 
might  be  everlasting  and  his  fame  remain  in  the  mouths 
of  men. 

And  if  my  tale  wearies  you,  for  with  my  poor  skill  I  scarce 
can  hope  to  bring  to  your  mind  a  half,  or  a  quarter,  of  the 
wonder  he  made,  there  in  Rimini  it  stands,  an  eternal 
witness  to  the  beauty  which  is  from  of  old  and  the  genius 
of  the  Latin  people.  Yet  indeed  I  have  not  told  all  that  is 
therein,  for  I  grow  old,  and  the  light  on  the  hills  is  dim,  and 
the  sun  wearies  me,  in  which  1  have  so  rejoiced,  and  the  song 
of  the  cicala  in  the  olive  gardens  is  for  me,  as  for  King 
Salomone,  a  burden  and  a  heaviness.  Yet  though  Pope 
Pius  II.  has  never  wearied  of  speaking  evil  of  our  Temple, 
saying  it  was  fitter  for  the  heathen  than  for  Christians,  I  too, 
remembering  the  words  of  my  friend  Pico,  those  consoling, 
serious,  hopeful  words,  will  think  in  my  heart  that,  even  as 
Messer  Leon  Battista  taught  me  there  are  no  more  any  bar- 
barians in  the  world;  so  there  are  not,  and  never  were 
heathen  neither.  That  the  gods  are  beautiful  and  very  far  off, 
immortal,  while  we  must  die,  I,  who  daily  watch  autumn  fall  for 
the  last  time,  know  full  well ;  yet  in  the  grave  may  be  I  shall 
feel  the  coming  of  Persephone,  and  hear  the  footsteps  of 
Aphrodite  on  the  sea ;  for  I  too  in  my  fashion  have  loved 
these  also  as  well  as  Jesucristo  and  His  Mother.  Come  now 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  219 

let  us  agree  together,  is  it  not  easier  to  love  the  Gods  than 
by  any  thought  to  utter  them  ? 

And  for  the  Temple  of  Sigismondo,  if  it  need  excuse,  it 
stands ;  question  it,  and  its  beauty  shall  soften  your  heart, 
and  your  thoughts  concerning  men  will  be  less  hard,  so 
beautiful  it  is. 


XIX 


Now  among  that  various  and  never-ending  crowd  who  passed 
through  Rimini  on  the  way  to  the  eternal  City  in  the  year  of 
the  Jubilee  there  came  a  certain  Ultramontane  lady,  who  in 
beauty  could  not  well  be  matched  in  our  city,  for  all  her 
parts  were  so  well  formed  and  in  just  measure  proportioned, 
that  together  they  made  a  woman  singularly  beautiful,  so  that 
one  might  say  of  her :  Che  dal  capo  al  piede  perfetta  belt  a  la 
rlcoprisse.  To  speak  but  of  her  hair:  she  wore  it  long,  so 
that  it  fell  over  her  neck,  her  breasts,  and  shoulders,  some- 
times hiding  and  sometimes  discovering  them,  shading  the 
unique  loveliness  of  her  face,  and  when  the  breeze  tossed 
it  it  fell  a  rain  of  gold  over  her  loveliness,  as  in  the 
tale  of  Danae  in  old  time;  and  whether  this  were  artifice 
or  carelessness  I  know  not,  for  carelessness  is  often 
artifice  in  woman.  Yet,  as  I  know,  this  northern  lady  was 
no  less  modest,  and  chaste  than  princely,  graceful,  and 
supremely  fair. 

Attracted  by  the  fame  of  our  Temple,  she  stayed,  on  her 
way  to  the  eternal  city,  some  days  in  Rimini,  accompanied  by 
the  ladies  and  gentlemen  of  her  court.  And  one  morning 
early,  being  in  the  Temple,  Sigismondo,  who  happened  to  be 
there,  to  the  evil  of  both  (as  I  fear),  saw  her,  and  was  at 
once  so  smitten  by  love  that  he  wished  to  change  her  lodging 
for  a  greater ;  but  she  would  not,  and  not  long  after  departed 
on  her  way. 

Then  Sigismondo,  wandering  in  his  mind,  thinking  only 
of  her  delectable  loveliness,  said  within  himself:  "How  can 
my  body  live  without  a  soul,  or  my  soul  without  its  corporeal 

220 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  221 

covering  ? "  And  with  extreme  impatience  he  looked  for 
her  return. 

In  the  meantime,  as  I  have  said,  we  laboured  at  the  Temple, 
which  daily  grew  more  beautiful.  Then  suddenly  we  heard 
that  the  plague,  which  after  the  seige  had  broken  out  in 
Milan,  had  been  carried  to  Rome  by  the  pilgrims ;  and  later 
news  came  that  the  Pope  himself  had  left  the  city,  and  was  on 
his  way  to  Fabriano,  and  Sigismondo,  when  he  heard  it,  began 
to  make  ready  to  go  there  to  greet  him. 

In  the  midst  of  these  preparations  one  brought  news  to 
Sigismondo  that  that  fair  Ultramontane,  on  her  way  North- 
ward, would  enter  our  city  before  nightfall.  Therefore 
Sigismondo,  going  out  with  a  company  to  meet  her,  found 
her  at  the  gate,  and  besought  her  not  to  go,  as  she  had  done 
before,  to  the  Inn,  but  to  accept  a  better  lodging  from  him ; 
but  she  refused  him  with  many  thanks.  And  again  and 
again  he  besought  her,  but  as  many  times  as  he  asked  she 
refused,  foreseeing  her  danger. 

Some  days  went  by,  and  I,  busy  with  Messer  Agostino, 
and  with  preparations  for  the  journey  to  Fabriano,  thought 
indeed  that  that  unfortunate  lady  was  departed.  Alas ! 
as  I  found,  it  was  not  so.  For  Sigismondo's  love  was 
turned  to  hate  and  fury.  Then  one  night,  because  of  the 
heat  and  the  never-ending  song  of  the  grasshoppers,  or 
may  be  for  some  heaviness  of  heart,  I  know  not  why,  I 
could  not  sleep,  and  hearing  voices  as  though  in  altercation 
I  went  out  into  the  more  private  parts  of  the  Rocca. 
Presently  as  I  wandered  searching  for  those  voices,  my 
sword  in  my  hand,  for  it  was  dark,  I  heard  cries ;  then,  run- 
ning towards  them,  I  beat  upon  the  door  of  the  room  whence 
they  came,  demanding  entrance.  Suddenly  the  door  was 
opened,  and  one  rushed  past  me  into  the  darkness.  Then  I, 
entering  swiftly,  beheld  that  most  fair  lady  on  the  ground,  her 
hair  all  stained  with  blood,  while  over  her  lay  Sigismondo, 


222  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

kissing  her  dead  beauty,  with  strange  cries,  and  little  breaths 
like  the  hissing  of  a  snake.  Then  indeed  I  crept  away,  for 
I  was  afraid ;  and,  going  into  the  court,  I  found  a  hideous 
figure  crouching  out  of  the  moonlight,  continually  wiping  his 
hands  as  well  as  he  could.  Going  towards  him  I  seized  him 
by  the  neck,  thinking  him  to  be  the  murderer.  How  can  I 
tell  my  wonder  and  surprise  when  I  found  it  was  indeed  a 
murderer,  but  one  who  lived  for  that  purpose — I  mean  the 
executioner  of  the  city. 

Seeing  my  astonishment  his  mouth  widened  into  a 
hideous  smile,  and  he  said:  "Messere,  you  may  well  be 
astonished  at  the  doings  of  this  night,  for  they  have  dragged 
tears  even  from  me,  abandoned  poor  wretch  though  I  am." 

"  What  mean  you  ? "  said  I,  still  with  my  drawn  sword, 
ready  to  send  him  to  his  account;  for  he  looked  dreadful 
enough,  covered  with  blood  as  he  was,  nor  did  he  cease  that 
horrid  wiping  of  his  great  hands. 

"  Come  aside  into  the  shadow  that  I  may  tell  you,"  said 
he,  "  for  the  guard  will  be  here  in  a  minute,  and  it  is  not 
well  that  this  night's  work  get  abroad."  So  we  went  into 
the  shadow,  he  before,  I  behind  him. 

"  Look  you,  our  Lord  is  mad  with  Love,"  said  he,  "  but 
the  Lady,  Messere,  she  with  the  gold  hair,  loved  him  not. 
Well,  well,  women  are  all  fools,  and  life  is  naught,  and  virtue 
an  old  tale. 

"  Now,  Messere,  Love,  mark  you,  is  easily  turned  to  fury 
if  it  be  denied,  and  lust,  they  say,  is  but  the  sunshiny  side  of 
hate.  I  know  not,  I;  but  that  our  Lord  loved  her — you 
might  see  it  in  his  little  eyes,  that  know  so  well  to  catch 
the  enemy,  and,  as  they  say,  never  blink  at  the  sun.  Well, 
she  denied  him  not  once,  not  twice,  but  many  times.  To- 
night he  lost  patience.  I  have  seen  him  so  in  Tuscany: 
Sforza  knows  that  look,  and  Federigo  of  Urbino,  and  neither 
cares  to  face  it. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  223 

"Well,  I  make  a  long  tale  you  think?  To  the  point 
then.  She  denied  him;  therefore  to-night  he  went  with 
a  company  to  beseech  her  to  admit  him.  Lord,  she  was 
fine  enough  for  a  king;  but  she  would  not.  Then,  in  a 
rage,  he  bade  them  drag  her  here,  and  when  some  of  the 
lady's  suite  offered  resistance,  we  knew  how  to  send  them 
running.  Then  they  bore  her,  Sigismondo  did,  in  his  great 
arms,  into  the  Rocca,  and  besought  her  with  boundless  and 
flattering  promises  (Lord,  to  hear  him  promise !  Lies  of  lovers !) ; 
but  she  gave  him  not  a  look,  much  less  a  word,  and  would  do 
nothing  but  weep.  Then  promises  turned  to  threats,  and 
he  fell  upon  her,  knowing  well  some  women  must  be  taken 
by  force  and  love  to  be  violated ;  yet  she  never  moved,  but 
stood  firm  as  a  rock,  and  at  last  she  spat  upon  him. 

"  Then,  like  a  dog,  he  fell  upon  her,  and  set  his  teeth  in  her 
white  arm,  so  that  the  blood  ran  like  scarlet  threads  over  her 
whiteness,  dripping  from  her  finger-tips ;  and  I  in  my  corner, 
even  I,  poor  wretch  that  I  am,  wept  to  see  it.  But  he,  with 
the  heart  of  a  viper,  tore  the  clothes  from  her  till  she  stood 
there  naked.  Then,  seeing  she  would  not,  he  bade  me  cut 
her  throat.  Look  you,  Messere,  by  the  Madonna  of  the 
Waters,  I  did  not  want  to  die.  Soul  of  a  cat !  I  cared  not  for 
the  job.  Yet  what  would  you  ?  You  know  his  eyes  ;  like 
gimlets,  they  pierced  my  soul ;  and,  well — to  be  short  with 
you,  I — he  drew  his  sword,  and  threatened  my  life — look  you, 
my  life  !  Well,  I  did  it — click — and  she  was  as  dead  as  Picci- 
nino.  Then  he  fell  upon  her ;  but  I,  fearing  more  for  my 
own  life,  hearing  someone  knock,  opened  the  door,  and  ran, 
while  you  went  in." 

I  thrust  the  swine  from  me,  and  went  to  my  own  room.1 


1  This   frightful  crime,  with  which  Pius  II.   charged  Sigismondo — no 
crime    real    or    imagined   escaped  the   eyes  of  that  worldly  wiseman,  that 


224  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

Sometimes  he  seems  to  me  like  that  Duke  d'Urslingen 
who  bore  on  his  shield  the  legend :  "  Ennemi  de  Dieu  de 
Piete  et  de  Misericorde."  *f  ?&%  ****  fj% 

Is  it  that,  having  already  made  himself  famous  by  his 
valour,  he  wishes  to  make  Italy  ring  with  his  crimes,  so  that 
he  may  distinguish  himself  not  only  by  his  virtue,  but  by  his 
infamy  also  ? 

Did  he  murder  Ginevra  d'Este?  Was  it  by  his  hand 
that  Polissena  Sforza  died  ?  Ah !  how  shall  I  ever  know  ? 
He  is  corrupt,  a  splendid  nature,  powerful,  and  full  of  force, 
divided  against  itself;  in  him  a  barbarian  fights  with  a  god, 
and  is  often  victorious. 

Yes,  in  our  time,  so  full  of  corruption,  it  is  a  malady  of 
powerful  and  splendid  natures  that  we  see — spirits  that,  in  a 
land  less  unfortunate  in  its  government,  might  have  conferred 
a  new  sort  of  immortality  on  the  Fatherland ;  only  here  there 
is  no  Fatherland.  Just  that,  with  all  its  profound  sentiment, 
we  have  not  been  able  to  steal  from  the  ancients  or  to  find 
in  our  envious  cities.  .  .  .  And  sometimes  this  corruption 
assumes  a  colossal  shape,  and  crime  seems  to  acquire  almost 
a  personal  existence  of  its  own ;  while  each  individual  man, 
even  among  the  lowest  of  the  people,  feels  himself  emanci- 
pated from  the  control  of  the  state,  whose  title  is  illegitimate 
and  is  founded  upon  violence,  and  no  man  any  longer  believes 
injustice  or  in  law.  For  the  men  of  our  time  have  no  con- 
science, no  sense  of  evil  as  evil ;  a  thing  is  useful  or  not, 
beautiful  or  ugly,  strong  or  weak,  never  good  or  bad.  We 
walk  in  the  paths  of  wickedness  with  the  same  serenity  as  in 

reformed  rake,  where  he  who  had  betrayed  Siena  was  concerned  has  been 
the  subject  of  much  controversy.  Some  say  it  happened  in  Lombardy, 
some  in  the  Veronese  ;  Clementini,  op.  clt.  p.  379,  gives  the  same  account 
practically  as  Sanseverino  has  given  above.  Battaglini,  op.  cit.  vol.  ii.  p.  427, 
absolutely  denies  it,  saying  that  the  murderer  could  not  be  found,  and 
proving  that  Nicolas  V.  at  least  did  not  think  Sigismondo  was  the  guilty 
person. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  225 

ie  path  of  righteousness,  plucking  the  flowers  by  the  way- 
side, or  talking  of  virtue. 

All  our  Art  is  serene,  our  Literature  is  incapable  of 
Tagedy,  our  type  of  womanhood  is  the  courtesan,  our  type 
of  manhood  the  successful  bandit.  We  are  not  aware  of  the 
swine  in  us,  that  prick-eared  devil  who  lurks  behind  the 
noblest  lives  of  those  who  are,  as  it  were,  evil  unaware. 

It  is  not  that  I  wish  to  make  excuse  for  Sigismondo ;  he 
is  but  the  type  of  his  age ;  for  if  all  have  not  expressed 
themselves  as  he  has,  all  have  thought  to  do  what  he  has 
done  in  their  hearts.  No  excuse  is  possible  for  ever.  Yet 
in  this  darkness,  where  even  the  steadfast  light  of  Plato  must 
grow  dim  and  fail,  I  have  wished  to  understand.  .  .  . 


It  was  August  when  Sigismondo,  in  the  midst  of  a 
brilliant  company,  taking  me  also  with  him,  set  out  for 
Fabriano  to  greet  the  Pope.  For  Nicholas  V.,  lover  of 
Letters  and  Art  as  he  was,  full  too  of  curiosity  as  to  our 
Temple,  held  Sigismondo  dear,  as  well  for  his  encouragement 
of  learning  as  for  the  services  he  had  rendered  to  the  Holy 
See.  Therefore  when  we  came  to  Fabriano  we  found  the 
principal  persons  of  his  Court  come  out  to  meet  us ;  while  we 
learned  that  lodgings  had  been  provided  for  us,  together  with 
torches,  calves,  sheep,  sweetmeats,  and  oats  in  abundance. 
For  while  as  far  back  as  June  1448  Sigismondo  had  been 
confirmed  by  Pope  Nicholas  in  his  Lordship  of  Cervia,  and  in 
May  of  the  present  year  in  Bertinoro,  the  Pievanato  di  Sestino, 
Meldola,  and  other  places,  now  a  new  favour  awaited  us ;  for 
Sigismondo,  with  Domenico,  who  presently  joined  us,  was  not 
only  declared  Vicar  in  common  with  Domenico  in  Rimini, 
Cesena,  Fano,  Bertinoro,  Cervia,  S.  Leo,  and  S.  Agata, 
Sestino,  and  Penna  Billi,  but  Sigismondo  himself  in  particular 
was  confirmed  in  the  Vicariate  of  Sinigaglia,  Castello  di 


226  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

Tomba,  Pergola,  and  Gradara,  and  other  places ;  while  the 
free  and  lawful  enjoyment  of  all  other  lands  and  castles  at 
that  time  possessed  by  him,  though  not  mentioned  in  the 
concession,  was  granted  him  and  his  heirs.  For  the  annual 
payment,  which  had  been  set  down  at  six  thousand  gold 
florins,  a  large  sum  was  agreed  upon ;  but  since  Sigismondo, 
through  Messer  Carlo  Valturi,  his  chancellor,  had  already 
paid  during  this  year  some  fifteen  thousand  florins  to  the 
Camera,  the  Pope  remitted  the  rest  of  the  debt,  adding  that 
he  did  this  for  remembrance  of  the  great  services  our  Lord 
had  rendered  the  Holy  See ;  and  for  the  future  he  reduced 
the  annual  payment  to  four  thousand  florins. 

All  these  honours  would  have  come  to  nothing,  for 
Galeotto  Roberto,  the  son  of  Ginevra  d'Este,  was  dead,  as 
was  the  son  of  Polissena  Sforza,  so  that  Sigismondo  had  no 
legitimate  child  living,  but  that  the  Pope,  knowing  this  well 
enough,  for  the  great  love  he  bore  our  Lord,  bethought 
him  to  remedy  the  defect  in  the  birth  both  of  Roberto, 
Sigismondo's  son  by  Donna  Vanella  dei  Toschi,  and  of 
Salustio,  his  son  by  Madonna  Isotta,  thus  permitting  them  to 
succeed  to  the  Lordship. 

It  was  September  when  Sigismondo  returned  to  Rimini 
with  these  honours.  A  few  days  later  he  set  out  for  Fano,  to 
prepare  his  troops  against  the  war  that  seemed  once  more  about 
to  burst  upon  Italy,  for  since  Sforza  had  won  the  Dukedom 
of  Milan  a  new  contest  seemed  inevitable.  The  Florentines, 
led  by  Cosimo  de'  Medici,  delighted  with  the  success  of  him 
they  had  always  favoured  secretly,  had  at  last  openly  allied 
themselves  with  the  new  Duke,  thus  breaking  the  alliance 
with  Venice.  The  Venetians,  on  the  other  hand,  angry  at 
the  treachery  of  Florence,  and  enraged  at  the  success  of 
Sforza,  joined  with  King  Alfonso  to  combat  the  Duke  and 
the  Florentines.  And  indeed  they  only  awaited  a  favourable 
opportunity  for  their  hate  to  pass  into  war.  Yet  this  expres- 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  227 

jion  of  their  enmities  was  kept  in  check  chiefly  by  the  ex- 
nation  everywhere  in  Italy  of  the  advent  of  Frederic,  king 
>f  the  Romans,  who  was  to  be  crowned  Emperor  at  Rome. 

All  that  winter  in  Rimini  we  laboured  on  the  Temple, 
id  when  summer  brought  no  war  we  continued  to  devote 
irselves  to  it;  yet, Urbino  proving  troublesome,  Sigismondo 
led  out  his  troops,  yet  rather  for  exercise  than  for  fighting, 
and  indeed  the  quarrel  came  to  little  enough:  a  few 
skirmishes  in  the  hills,  a  few  encounters  in  the  valleys,  here 
a  castle  lost,  there  a  castle  taken,  but  no  war  worthy  of  the 
name.  For  truly  all  were  waiting,  not  without  anxiety,  to 
see  what  King  Alfonso  and  the  Republic  would  do  together ; 
it  was  no  time  for  private  quarrels.  Only  always  we  laboured 
on  the  Temple,  and  perhaps  the  most  pleasant  remembrance 
I  have  of  that  year  is  the  advent  of  Messer  Piero  di  Borgo, 
who  came  to  paint  Sigismondo's  portrait  in  the  Chapel  of  the 
Relics.  Something  strange,  impersonal,  almost  hard,  you  may 
find  in  that  dry  and  faintly-coloured  fresco,  that  is  yet  full  of 
force  and  life ;  but  indeed  what  seems  so  impersonal  is  in 
truth  one  of  the  most  personal  things  in  the  world,  Messer 
Piero  being  indeed  as  baffling  as  one  of  his  pictures,  full  of 
a  reticent  force  and  curiosity  about  things  not  unpleasing,  and 
full  too  of  theories  of  the  future  of  painting  that  interested 
me  much ;  yet  he  stayed  but  long  enough  to  paint  that  one 
picture. 

And  at  last,  on  the  first  day  of  the  New  Year,  1452, 
Federigo  entered  Italy,  and,  avoiding  Milan,  passed  into 
Venetian  territory.  Then  a  few  days  later  Sigismondo  and 
Novello  set  out  to  greet  him,  joining  the  Signori  of  Faenza, 
Coreggio,  and  Palavicini,  and  other  gentlemen  in  the  company 
of  Marchese  Borso  d'Este.  When  they  returned,  having 
paid  homage  to  Federigo,  whom  they  had  met  on  the  Adige 
towards  Verona,  preparations  were  made  for  the  departure 
of  Sigismondo  for  Rome,  where,  at  the  Pope's  request,  he 


228  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

was  to  be  present  at  the  Coronation  and  marriage  of  the 
Emperor.  For  Federigo  had  come  to  Rome  not  only  to  be 
crowned,  but  also  to  marry  a  niece  of  King  Alfonso — Leonora, 
of  the  royal  house  of  Portugal. 

It  was  the  last  day  of  February  when  we  set  out,  making 
but  slow  progress,  for  the  season  was  wintry,  and  the  roads 
bad.  And  on  6th  March,  still  a  day's  journey  from  the 
eternal  City,  we  fell  in  with  a  gay  procession  of  soldiers  and 
countrymen,  which  proved  to  be  the  rearguard  of  the  Emperor, 
whose  carnival  cavalcade  was  the  talk  of  all  Italy.  Riding 
on  in  haste,  we  joined  the  suite  of  the  Emperor  later,  and 
rode  all  the  day  with  him.  Now,  while  Sigismondo  amused 
himself  eagerly  enough  with  the  gentlemen  he  found  there, 
talking  of  the  war  that  only  the  advent  of  the  Emperor  held 
in  leash,  I,  riding  alone,  was  presently  accosted  by  the  Bishop 
of  Siena,  Aeneas  Sylvius  Piccolomini,  a  much-travelled  prelate 
who,  though  he  suffered  badly  from  the  gout,  seemed  to 
delight  in  every  hill  and  valley  and  running  stream  we 
passed.  Nor  was  I  able  to  forget  his  enthusiasm,  which  was 
a  delight  to  see.  We  talked  much  too  concerning  Byzantium, 
the  fall  of  which  before  the  Turk  the  Bishop  thought  could 
not  be  avoided,  and  while  he  deplored  this  with  passionate 
earnestness,  yet  he  said  he  saw  not  how  it  could  now  be  pre- 
vented. "  Serious  matters,"  said  he,  "  are  settled  by  arms, 
not  by  law  or  justice."  And  1  gathered  that  he  laid  the 
fault  and  disgrace  of  that  danger  chiefly  at  the  door  of  our 
country,  which,  distracted  by  internal  quarrels,  was  unable  to 
enforce  its  will  by  arms.  Then  I,  hearing  him  speak  much 
concerning  the  old  religion  and  the  new  learning,  asked  him 
his  opinion  concerning  the  hidden  truth  of  Paganism,  for- 
getting, in  my  enthusiam  for  his  knowledge,  that  he  was  a 
churchman.  But  he  forgot  it  not.  Hearing  my  question, 
even  in  his  excitement  he  turned  to  me  with  a  smile,  and 
said :  "  Messere,  Christianity,  even  if  it  were  not  approved  by 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  229 

miracles,  ought  to  be  received  for  its  own  worth.  He  who 
knows  much  is  much  persecuted  by  doubt.  The  nature  of 
God  can  be  better  understood  by  believing  than  by  disputing ; 
just  as  a  cultivated  man  will  submit  his  own  house  to  his  city, 
his  city  to  his  country,  his  country  to  the  world,  so  we  should 
be  ready  to  submit  the  world  to  God." 

Just  then  we  came  up  with  the  company  of  the  Emperor, 
who  was  riding  under  a  rich  baldacchino,  and  a  minute  later 
we  heard  one  of  the  bodyguard  cry  out :  "  Ecco  !  Roma !  " 
So  we  came  in  sight  of  Rome.  All  halted  to  pay  reverence 
to  the  eternal  City,  and  Aeneas  Sylvius,  alighting  from  his 
horse,  began  to  speak  to  the  Emperor,  pointing  out  the 
distant  towers  of  Rome  and  the  ruins  of  the  Campagna.  For 
a  long  time  Federigo  listened  in  silence,  then,  dreamily  looking 
at  the  Bishop  of  Siena,  who  had  spoken  very  eloquently,  he 
said :  "  Let  us  go  forward,  for  I  seem  to  see  you  Cardinal 
and  future  Pope." 

Ah,  had  I  but  known  then  how  disastrous  that  prophecy 
would  prove  for  us ! 

That  night,  though  the  Cardinals  and  nobles  came  to 
meet  him,  the  Emperor  spent  outside  the  walls,  but  we 
entered  the  city,  and  came  to  our  lodging.  Going  on  the 
next  day  to  S.  Pietro,  we  saw  the  splendid  procession  pass 
into  the  Piazza,  and  the  Emperor  kneel  and  kiss  the  Pope's 
foot,  while,  after,  the  Pope  kissed  him  on  the  cheek.  Of 
the  Coronation  which  followed,  on  the  i9th  March,  which 
was  the  anniversary  of  the  Pope's  own  Coronation,  I  shall 
write  nothing.  All  men  know  the  splendour  of  that  cere- 
mony, and  how  that  Federigo  was  crowned  not  only  with 
the  crown  of  the  Emperor,  but,  since  he  had  not  entered 
Milan,  on  i6th  March,  with  the  iron  crown  of  Lombardy 
also,  which  had  been  brought  from  Sforza's  city ;  and  the 
same  day  was  his  wedding  day,  for  the  Pope  himself  married 
him  to  Leonora  of  Portugal,  and,  since  he  was  not  yet 


230  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

Emperor  on  that  day,  many  of  the  Cardinals  took  precedence 
of  him,  for  as  yet  he  was  but  a  German  king.  Yet  that 
too  was  a  thing  to  wonder  at,  I  think,  and  serves  to  show 
how  low  the  Empire  had  fallen  in  the  minds  of  men. 

On  the  1 9th  March,  as  I  have  said,  Federigo  was  crowned 
Emperor,  swearing  first  obedience  to  the  Pope.  He  had 
brought  from  Nlirnberg  the  imperial  insignia  of  Charlemagne ; 
but,  as  the  Bishop  of  Siena  told  me  later,  the  sword  was  in 
reality  that  of  Charles  IV.,  for  he  had  seen  upon  it  the  Lion 
of  Bohemia.  Yet  all  men  thought  it  was  indeed  the  sword 
of  the  great  Charles,  and  reverenced  it  therefore.  Thus  is 
our  worship  of  antiquity  often  brought  to  naught — a  dream 
lacking  reality,  a  vision  of  our  hearts. 


XX 

THE  Emperor  was  departed;  summer  was  come.  On  the 
very  day  that  Federigo  crossed  the  Alps  the  Venetians  de- 
clared war  on  Sforza.  Soon  their  armies,  with  those  of  the 
Duke  of  Savoy  and  the  Marchese  di  Monferrato,  were  attack- 
ing the  states  of  Milan.  Nor  was  it  long  before  King 
Alfonso's  troops,  eight  thousand  foot,  began  to  enter 
Tuscany,  under  the  command  of  Federigo  of  Urbino,1  who, 
angry  that  Sforza  had  already  arranged  for  Sigismondo  to 
lead  the  Florentine  army,  in  common  with  Alessandro  of 
Pesaro,  had  joined  the  king.  With  him  too  went  the 
king's  young  son,  Ferdinando,  to  give  encouragement  to  the 
army. 

Ferdinand  at  first  attacked  Cortona,  but  seeing  it  was 
not  like  to  yield,  and  considering  the  natural  difficulty  of  the 
place,  set,  as  it  is,  on  a  hill  well-nigh  impregnable,  having 
ravaged  the  country,  he  encamped  not  far  from  Arezzo,  but, 
fearing  lest  he  should  there  find  no  provisions,  he  determined 
to  seize  Fojano,  where  he  knew  the  Sienese  would  not  let 
him  want.  He  did  not  find  the  taking  of  Fojano  so  easy  a 
matter  as  he  had  hoped,  however,  for  not  only  were  the 
people  of  that  place  very  brave,  and  fertile  in  plans  for 
defence,  but  on  the  very  day  he  encamped  there  Simonetto 
di  Castel  di  Piero,  in  the  Florentine  service,  arrived  at  Arezzo, 
and  was  joined  almost  immediately  by  Astorge  Manfredi. 
Yet  their  troops  were  not  sufficient  to  attack  the  Aragonese, 
though  they  made  some  attempt  on  their  supplies  towards 
Montepulciano,  but  were  utterly  defeated,  so  that,  even 

1  Federigo  was  apparently  ill  during  the  greater  part  of  this  campaign. 
231 


232  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

under  the  walls  of  Arezzo,  they  would  not  have  been  safe  if 
Sigismondo,  with  the  greater  part  of  the  army  of  Florence, 
thirteen  thousand  strong,  had  not  arrived  at  that  moment. 

Our  Lord,  already  disgusted  at  seeing  his  command  halved 
with  Alessandro  Sforza,  was  content  to  let  the  enemy  weary 
themselves  in  attempting  to  take  various  small  places,  and 
although  he  gave  out  that  he  was  anxious  to  assist  Fojano, 
he  did  nothing  to  save  that  place,  which  surrendered  to 
Aragon,  though  on  honourable  terms.  But  Sigismondo  led 
his  army  to  Monte  Imperiale,  and  fortified  the  place,  content 
with  observing  the  enemy  and  keeping  the  army  of  Florence 
intact.- 

In  this  he  was  wise,  for  presently  Federigo  turned  his 
attention  to  Castellina,  not  more  than  twenty-five  miles  from 
Florence ;  and  though  he  received  help  from  the  neighbour- 
ing castles,  he  could  not  take  the  place  without  cannon. 
Sigismondo  meantime  continually  harassed  him,  and  it  was 
long  before  the  gun  arrived  from  Castiglione.  When  it 
came  it  burst  at  the  first  shot,  and  it  was  necessary  to  send 
again  for  another.  By  this,  winter  was  come,  and  Federigo 
had  to  abandon  the  siege,  going  into  quarters  in  Maremma, 
between  Talamone  and  Grosseto.  And  the  Florentines,  see- 
ing themselves,  as  they  thought,  free  from  danger,  sent  their 
troops  into  winter  quarters,  Sigismondo  returning  to  Rimini. 

But  Federigo  was  not  yet  done.  With  eight  galleys  and 
eight  hundred  men  he  seized  the  port  of  Vada.  This  seemed 
serious  to  the  Florentines,  who  saw  that,  though  they  had 
saved  the  centre  of  their  dominions,  the  enemy  at  Fojano 
and  Vada  held  the  flanks,  and  were  thus  in  a  good  position  to 
renew  the  war  in  the  spring. 

In  their  consternation  at  this  turn  of  affairs  they  first 
sent  ambassadors  to  Sforza,  and  agreed  with  him  to  call 
Rene  of  Anjou  into  Italy,  and  to  provide  him  with  money  to 
attack  Aragon  in  the  Kingdom.  Then  they  sent  Bernardo 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  233 

de'  Medici  to  Sigismondo,  confirming  him  in  the  command  of 
their  troops,  offering  him  new  and  better  terms ; l  for  they 
feared,  knowing  our  Lord's  love  for  Venice,  that,  having  al- 
ready received  a  part  of  the  pay,  not  yet  due,  he  would  allow 
himself  to  be  persuaded  to  join  that  Republic. 

When  spring  came  Sigismondo  went  to  Tuscany,  deter- 
mined to  retake  Fojano,  Ferdinando  by  then  being  at  Cas- 
tiglione. 

Nevertheless,  though  the  Aragonese  were  at  a  dis- 
advantage, since  the  Sienese,  more  eager  than  before  to 
remain  neutral  in  spite  of  the  efforts  of  the  King,  divided 
their  army,  there  was  some  disorder  among  the  Florentines 
owing  to  the  rivalry  of  Alessandro  Sforza  and  our  Lord,  who 
still  divided  the  command.  For  Sigismondo  -in  particular 
considered  himself  insulted,  since  he  was  not  in  supreme 
command.  And  indeed  this  rivalry  almost  came  to  blows,  so 
that  Sigismondo,  thinking  he  might  one  day,  and  that  not 
distant,  have  to  chastise  Alessandro,  sent  for  Gaspare  Broglio, 
who  had  loved  him  so  well  in  the  past  as  to  go  near  losing 
his  honour  for  his  Lord.  Now  Sigismondo  thought  to  send 
Broglio  to  Siena  to  negotiate  with  that  city  to  appoint 
him,  if  need  were,  their  Condottiere.  Broglio  at  once  con- 
sented to  do  this,  for  he  was  well  known  in  Siena ;  yet  he  did 
not  hesitate  to  point  out  to  Sigismondo  that  he  must  act 
carefully,  so  as  not  to  put  his  whole  power  in  peril  in  a  single 

1  The  terms  of  Sigismondo's  new  engagement  were,  according  to  Batta- 
glini,  op.  cit.  ii.  p.  439,  as  follows  : — Florence  within  fourteen  days  was  to 
pay  Sigismondo  fifteen  thousand  florins  at  four  lire  per  florin,  and  afterwards 
for  every  month  of  service  three  thousand  five  hundred  florins  of  current 
value.  He,  on  his  part,  with  at  least  fourteen  hundred  horse  and  four 
hundred  foot,  was  to  pass  into  Tuscany  within  a  month  after  the  first  payment, 
and  there  to  act  on  the  advice  of  the  Ten  Signori  or  their  commissioners. 
If  they  decided  that  instead  of  going  into  Tuscany  he  should  carry  the  war 
into  Urbino  territory,  he  was  to  receive  so  much,  that  the  fifteen  thousand 
florins  already  paid  him  should  be  equivalent  to  fifteen  thousand  di  camera, 
and  after  every  month  four  thousand  florins.  Moreover,  his  territory  was 
safeguarded  by  a  guarantee  from  Florence  and  Sforza. 


234  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

day;  that  it  would  be  very  dangerous  to  quarrel  openly  with 
Alessandro  and  to  leave  the  Florentine  army,  for  those 
generals  now  favourable  to  him  would  become  adverse 
through  fear  of  Florence;  and  that  while  to  enter  the 
Sienese  territory  under  a  safe  conduct  would  be  easy,  to 
remain  there  or  to  quit  it  to  return  to  Rimini  would  be  very 
dangerous,  with  Ferdinando  and  Federigo  of  Urbino,  his 
deadly  enemies,  on  either  side  of  him.  Even  if  he  should 
succeed  in  returning,  how  was  he  to  keep  his  army,  with 
every  power  in  Italy  opposed  to  him?  for  even  the  Pope, 
who  favoured  him,  would  not  then  give  him  employment  for 
fear  of  offending  the  rest. 

Now  while  Sigismondo  saw  these  dangers  and  commended 
the  sincerity  of  Broglio  he,  nevertheless,  continued  to  urge 
him  to  go,  the  which  at  last  he  was  persuaded  to  do.  It  is 
from  this  time  I  trace  the  beginning  of  all  the  evil  that  over- 
whelmed him,  and  us  with  him,  in  the  end. 

Meantime  the  troops  of  the  King  were  rendered  almost 
useless  by  a  malady  caught  in  Maremma,  so  that  they  could 
scarcely  leave  their  quarters.  The  people  of  Fojano,  hearing 
this,  one  day  seized  their  arms,  and  secretly  admitting  a 
company  of  the  besiegers,  gave  their  city  and  the  Aragonese 
garrison  into  the  hands  of  the  Florentines.  When  he  heard 
of  this  good  fortune  Sigismondo  prepared  to  take  the  army 
to  Vada,  which  by  this  time  had  been  strongly  fortified,  and 
a  new  wall  built,  with  lime  and  stones  brought  by  sea.  First, 
however,  he  raised  and  burnt  Fojano,  that  it  might  not  fall 
again  into  the  hands  of  the  enemy.  The  Florentine  army 
was  divided  into  two  parts,  one  of  which,  as  I  have  said,  was 
commanded  by  Sigismondo,  and  the  other  by  Alessandro 
Sforza;  and  thus  they  marched  towards  Vada  by  different 
ways.  But  the  Florentines,  knowing  of  the  sickness  that  had 
fallen  on  the  armies  of  the  King,  feeling  themselves  relieved 
from  pressing  anxiety,  and  weary  of  the  continued  quarrels 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  235 

of  their  two  generals,  decided  to  dismiss  one  of  them  to 
Lombardy ;  so  they  sent  Sforza  to  help  his  brother,  and  re- 
appointed  Sigismondo  Captain-General  of  their  forces. 

It  was  opposite  Vada,  on  3oth  September,  that  Gianozzo 
Manetti  and  Bernardo  de'  Medici,  the  Commissioners  of  the 
Republic,  gave  Sigismondo,  with  the  usual  solemnities,  the 
staff  of  chief  command  before  the  assembled  army,  Messer 
Gianozzo  Manetti  praising  him  very  eloquently  to  the 
soldiers  in  an  oration.  And  Sigismondo,  for  answer,  swore  to 
take  Vada. 

This  was  indeed  so  difficult  at  that  season  that  no  one 
save  Sigismondo,  who  was  daring,  impetuous,  and  full  of 
resource,  would  have  thought  of  attempting  it.  All  the 
country  round  about  was  a  marsh,  so  that  it  was  almost  im- 
possible to  use  bombarde.  Moreover,  not  only  was  the  place 
magnificently  fortified,  but  King  Alfonso  had  sent  his  best 
troops,  the  pick  of  his  army,  to  defend  it,  under  Count  Carlo 
da  Campobasso,  one  of  his  most  experienced  captains.  Now, 
while  the  ground  was  a  marsh,  that  was  not  the  only  diffi- 
culty, for  the  form  of  the  country  is  such  that,  if  all  were  dry 
land,  it  would  still  be  well-nigh  impossible  to  strike  the  castle 
with  effect. 

Nevertheless,  all  these  difficulties  Sigismondo  overcame 
by  his  genius ;  yet  new  ones  constantly  arose,  and  not  least 
among  them  the  reinforcements  which  the  besieged  con- 
stantly received  from  the  sea.  Even  this,  however,  by  a  new 
placing  of  the  bombarde,  he  overcame,  and  so  well  that  the 
galleys  could  not  approach  the  port. 

Campobasso  now  saw  that  further  resistance  was  useless 
unless  Ferdinando  could  come  to  his  assistance,  but  that 
army  was  in  such  a  condition  from  sickness  that  but  few 
were  fit  to  march,  much  less  fight.  At  last,  when  every 
hope  of  relief  was  gone,  Campobasso  secretly  removed  his 
men  by  night,  thus  abandoning  the  castle,  which  came  into 


236 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 


the  hands  of  Sigismondo;  then,  winter  coming  on,  he  re- 
turned to  Rimini. 

Certainly  Sigismondo  had  won  great  honour  in  that 
campaign.  Yet  I  for  one  could  not  rejoice,  for  while 
these  internal  wars  had  distracted  us  from  more  important 
affairs,  Byzantium  had  fallen  into  the  hands  of  the  Turks. 
Ah !  how  shall  we  ever  excuse  ourselves  for  that  fall  ? 
Are  we  not  disgraced  for  ever  before  adl  thoughtful  and 
cultivated  men  that  shall  come  after  us,  in  that  we  have 
allowed  the  treasure-house  of  the  ancients  to  fall  into 
the  hands  of  Asiatics  and  barbarians  ?  What  is  Sforza's 
Dukedom  or  the  crown  of  Naples  beside  so  great  a  booty, 
yet  we,  quarrelling  for  a  lordship,  have  allowed  the  fountain 
of  civilisation,  the  very  garden  of  learning,  to  be  destroyed. 

Was  it  this  news  that  turned  the  thoughts  of  Venice,  Milan, 
and  Florence  towards  peace  ?  Ah  !  no.  Venice  feared  lest  she 
might  lose  more  gold  than  she  cared  to  think  upon;  Sforza 
feared  that,  winning  a  Dukedom,  he  might  be  left  penni- 
less ;  Florence  feared  that  she  would  beggar  herself.  Only 
Nicholas  V.  thought  not  of  money,  but  concerned  partly  for 
his  own  honour,  partly  for  the  honour  of  the  Church,  sought 
to  pacify  Italy  that  he  might  turn  and  chastise  the  infidel. 

Therefore,  secretly,  for  fear  of  the  King,  who,  persuaded  of 
his  own  strength,  wished  to  continue  the  war,  Venice  made 
peace  with  Sforza — the  peace  of  Lodi,  which  was  published  in 
April  1454. 

Now  when  the  King  heard  of  it  he  was  both  angry  and 
disgusted  with  Venice,  who  certainly  was  a  traitor  to  him, 
for  one  of  the  articles  of  the  peace  stipulated  that  the 
Florentines  should  cease  to  make  war  on  the  armies  of 
Alfonso,  and  that  the  Sienese  should  no  longer  allow  Aragon 
to  maintain  himself  in  Tuscany.  King  Alfonso  found  himself 
therefore  obliged  to  withdraw  from  the  territory  of  Siena 
with  all  the  troops  he  had  left. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATES^A  237 

Yet  while  this  great  peace  gradually  came  to  include  all 
ie  greater  powers  in  Italy,  a  new  little  war  broke  out 
jtween  the  Sienese  and  the  Signore  of  Pitigliano,  Count 
Aldobrando  Orsini.  The  Sienese  had  encamped  against 
Sorano,  one  of  the  castles  of  the  Count,  who,  aided  by 
Everso  dell'  Anguillara,  assailed  the  camp  of  the  Sienese, 
whose  commissioner,  Antonio  di  Checcorosso,  whether  in  the 
pay  of  the  enemy  or  from  stupidity,  I  know  not,  always  did 
the  opposite  of  that  which  his  condottieri  had  decided  upon, 
so  that  in  the  end  the  army  of  the  Commune  was  completely 
routed.  It  was  then  decided  to  create  a  new  army  to  re- 
trieve the  fortunes  of  the  city,  and  to  command  this  many 
wished  to  elect  Federigo  of  Urbino. 

Now  Messer  Gaspare  Broglio,  being  in  Siena,  heard  of 
this,  and  knowing  Sigismondo  would  not  care,  any  more  than 
he  did,  to  see  Urbino  preferred  before  him,  made  such  efforts, 
and  so  moved  the  principal  citizens  by  praise  of  Sigismondo, 
that  he  was  charged  at  last  to  see  whether  our  Lord  would 
accept  the  post  of  Captain-General  of  their  army.  Meanwhile 
the  Balii  sent  to  the  Pope,  wishing  for  his  good  will,  and  tell- 
ing him  that  they  proposed  to  continue  the  war  against  Orsini 
and  Anguillara,  asked  whether  he  would  approve  of  their 
choice  of  the  Signore  of  Rimini  as  their  General.  Now 
Orsini  and  Anguillari  were  rebels  against  the  Holy  See,  and 
no  lord  of  Italy  was  more  dear  to  the  Pope  than  Sigismondo. 
Among  them  all  there  was  certainly  none  who  for  generosity 
of  heart,  frankness,  natural  eloquence,  learning,  knowledge 
of  literature,  generosity  and  kindness  to  scholars,  choice  taste, 
and  love  of  the  arts,  pleased  him  better.  For  just  as  these 
qualities  distinguished  Sigismondo  from  many  other  Lords, 
so  they  had  won  him  the  love  of  the  Pope.  Therefore  he 
replied  to  the  Sienese  that  not  only  did  he  approve  their 
choice,  but  that  he  himself  had  intended  appointing  Sigis- 
mondo to  chastise  those  rebellious  Lords.  Moreover,  the 


238  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

Sienese  knew  well  that  not  many  months  before  King 
Alfonso  had  proposed  to  make  Sigismondo  his  Captain- 
General,  and  though  partly  owing  to  the  peace,  partly  to 
our  Lord's  claims,  this  had  come  to  nothing,  his  son  Roberto 
was  espoused  to  the  daughter  of  the  Duke  of  Calabria. 
Therefore  the  Signori  della  Balia,  seeing  that  all  were  pleased 
with  their  choice,  concluded  the  agreement  with  Sigismondo. 

Only  Florence  and  Sforza  looked  on  enviously,  the  one 
hoping  for  the  destruction  of  the  Sienese,  the  other  fearing 
for  his  brother  Buoso  Sforza,  who  held  Santa  Fiora  and  other 
lands  near  Siena.  Sforza  even  went  so  far  as  to  accuse 
Sigismondo  of  every  sort  of  treachery  before  the  Signori,  but 
without  avail.  Would  indeed  that  he  had  prevailed  for  all 
our  dealings  with  Siena  brought  us  nothing  but  trouble 
later.  However,  in  October  Sigismondo  moved  with  his 
troops  from  Rimini,  going  towards  Siena,  and  at  the  be- 
ginning of  November  was  honourably  presented  to  their 
army  as  Captain-General,  having  under  him  Carlo  Gonzaga, 
Pier  Brunoro,  Giulio  da  Varano,  Ghiberto  da  Correggio, 
Leonello  Corso,  and  others,  who  with  Broglio  were  in  the 
Sienese  service  at  the  time.  Then,  having  reviewed  the 
troops  at  Ponte  Arrigo,  he  marched  towards  Sorano ;  before 
long,  the  bombard*  having  been  brought  from  Siena,  he  was 
pressing  and  hammering  it  on  all  sides.  But  the  place  was 
naturally  so  strong  and  well  garrisoned  that  it  could  not  be 
taken,  either  by  his  bombarde  or  by  assault,  however  frequently 
he  tried.  Moreover,  winter  came  on  early,  with  an  extra- 
ordinary severity,  making  the  siege  more  difficult  still;  for 
it  rained  continually ;  then  came  snow  and  frost ;  there  was 
no  hay  for  the  horses,  and  the  troops  were  ill  sheltered,  so 
that  not  a  few  died  from  the  cold. 

Now  Sigismondo  would  certainly  have  been  content  to 
go  into  quarters,  considering  the  season,  if  he  had  not  been, 
in  the  first  place,  concerned  for  his  honour,  and,  in  the  second, 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  239 

disturbed  by  the  lies  that  he  found  Checcorosso  was  sending 
to  the  Sienese,  reporting  that  it  was  Sigismondo's  fault  that 
the  place  was  not  taken,  and  accusing  him  of  having  entered 
into  an  agreement  with  Count  Everso.  When  they  heard 
this  the  Signori  sent  for  Broglio,  who  had  persuaded  them 
to  accept  Sigismondo,  saying  that  all  that  Sforza  had  said  of 
him  was  true,  that  he  seemed  to  be  conducting  the  war 
rather  for  the  pleasure  of  the  enemy  than  for  victory. 
Nevertheless,  as  they  said,  they  wished  to  convince  Sigis- 
londo  of  their  good  faith  and  the  honour  in  which  they  held 
lim,  and  therefore  they  asked  Broglio  what  mark  of  honour 
would  best  convince  our  Lord  of  their  sincerity.  Broglio 
told  them  that  what  they  had  heard  was  not  true,  but  the 
fabrications  of  a  personal  enemy,  that  he  knew  Sigismondo 
was  doing  what  he  could,  that  the  season  was  severe  and 
wintry,  and  that  if  they  wished  to  show  their  gratitude  to 
his  Lord  he  thought  a  proper  present  was  a  charger,  with  the 
Banner  of  the  Commune  and  the  Staff. 

This  answer  pleased  the  Signori,  and  having  purchased 
a  noble  horse,  and  laid  upon  it  a  rich  cloth  of  gold,  they 
sent  it  with  the  Banner  and  Staff  to  be  presented  to  Sigis- 
mondo by  Goro  Lolli,  who  was  the  nephew  of  the  Bishop 
Eneo  Sylvio  Piccolomini.  And  he  received  it,  but  gave  in 
return  thanks,  and  nothing  more.  Truly  for  this  strange 
thoughtlessness  or  meanness,  if  it  were  so,  foreign  enough 
to  his  nature,  he  paid  heavily  later. 

Broglio  also  had  gone  with  the  Sienese  to  the  camp,  and 
now  besought  Sigismondo  to  break  off  all  relations  with 
Count  Everso,  and  to  put  away  all  thought  of  using  him 
against  Aldobrandino.  But  Sigismondo  urged  that  he  had 
only  come  to  an  agreement  with  him  to  prevent  him  helping 
that  Signore ;  and  indeed  our  Lord  redoubled  his  efforts  to 
take  Sorano.  Yet  in  vain,  for  winter  became  more  terrible 
every  day,  and  the  condottieri  and  constables  of  the  army 


240  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

complained  that  they  were  losing  all  their  troops;  for,  as 
they  declared,  it  was  manifest  Sorano  could  not  be  taken  at 
that  season,  and  they  ought  to  go  to  quarters. 

Now  Sigismondo  by  this  time  began  to  agree  with  his 
captains,  for  he  had  ever  much  regard  for  the  well-being  of 
his  soldiers;  therefore  he  thought  to  write  to  the  Signori 
of  Siena  on  the  matter,  but  not  without  consulting  Checco- 
rosso.  This  man,  besides  being  stupid,  hated  Sigismondo, 
who,  he  thought  (may  be  rightly),  laughed  at  him.  Therefore 
he  himself  wrote  to  the  Signori,  saying  that  the  only  obstacle 
to  victory  was  the  General,  and  if  he  were  removed,  and  the 
command  given  to  Ghiberto  da  Coreggio,  all  would  be  well. 
Then  the  Signori  sent  two  commissioners  to  report  on  the 
conduct  of  Sigismondo,  providing  them  with  twelve  thousand 
ducats,  which  if  he  were  found  to  be  loyal  they  were  to  give 
him  that  he  might  divide  them  as  seemed  best  to  him  among 
the  captains. 

These  two  commissioners  having  seen  the  state  of  affairs 
reported  the  truth  to  the  Signori,  adding  that  only  the  hatred 
of  Checcorosso  and  Coreggio  made  them  write  as  they  did. 
Nevertheless,  they  brought  back  the  money,  which  angered 
the  Signori  so  much  that  they  thought  to  discharge  them; 
for  it  seemed  to  them  that  that  money  might  well  have  per- 
suaded Sigismondo  and  his  captains  not  to  quit  the  field  before 
they  had  taken  Sorano.  Nevertheless,  some  few  in  Siena 
still  suspected  Sigismondo,  for  they  were  aware  of  his  corre- 
spondence with  Count  Everso,  though  they  knew  not  his 
explanation  of  it. 

Now  Sigismondo  on  his  side,  knowing  nothing  of  the  twelve 
thousand  ducats,  began  to  be  impatient  of  what  he  took  to 
be  the  ineradicable  suspicion  of  the  Sienese.  Therefore,  call- 
ing his  captains  together,  he  bade  any  speak  who  could  show 
him  a  way  of  taking  Sorano.  But,  instead  of  answering  him, 
all  begged  leave  to  return  to  their  houses.  Sigismondo, 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 


241 


inderstanding  well  the  request  thus  made  him,  and  agreeing 
with  it  in  his  heart,  urged  them  to  wait  at  least  till  he  had 
written  to  the  Signori  and  received  a  reply.  And  they  agreed. 
In  the  meantime  he  ordered  the  bombarde  to  be  fired  day  and 
night  against  the  castle,  but  in  vain.  Wishing,  however,  to 
end  the  compaign  with  some  honour  to  himself  and  satis- 
faction for  the  Sienese,  he  persuaded  the  Count  Aldobrandino 
to  submit  his  cause  to  his  decision ;  and  he  consented,  and 
sent  his  son  to  Sigismondo  as  a  hostage.  But  Sigismondo 
kept  all  this  a  secret,  wishing  first  to  write  once  more  to  the 
Signori,  and  win  permission  to  raise  the  siege. 

Then  he  received  letters  from  Nicolo  Panzuto  degli 
Adimari,  his  secretary,  at  that  time  in  Siena ;  and  Broglio  also 
had  warning  from  his  friends  that  their  departure  would  be 
prevented.  His  fears  were  increased  when  the  Commis- 
sioners ordered  Broglio  to  Pian  Castagnaio ;  therefore,  think- 
ing that  some  snare  was  being  prepared  for  him,  he  decided 
to  depart  without  any  more  delay. 

Escape  however,  for  it  had  come  to  that,  was  no  easy 
business.  Taking  with  him  Aldobrandino's  son,  and  abandoning 
the  artillery,  he'  marched  with  his  troops,  ragged,  starving,  half 
dead  with  cold  and  exposure,  to  Monte  Merano.  Before  de- 
departing  he  had  written  to  the  Signori  that  the  season  no 
longer  permitted  him  to  remain ;  that  if  they  wished  to  retain 
him  in  their  service  they  must  give  him  winter  quarters ;  that 
as  he  had  endeavoured,  even  to  the  end,  to  win  them  victory, 
so  he  had  obtained  from  Count  Aldobrandino  his  son,  as  a 
guarantee  of  the  agreement  which  through  him  the  Count 
was  willing  to  enter  into  with  Siena. 

Here  under  Monte  Merano  he  awaited  their  reply,  which 
was  by  no  means  satisfactory  to  him,  for  it  said  that,  ill 
satisfied  with  the  expenses  they  had  already  incurred,  they 
no  longer  wished  for  his  services,  but  gave  him  his  dis- 
charge; as  for  the  accord  with  the  Count,  they  would 
Q 


242 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 


maintain  it  since  it  had  been  promised  in  their  name,  but 
they  had  good  reason  to  suspect  it. 

When  he  received  this  reply  Sigismondo  thought  only  of 
returning  to  Rimini.  How  to  do  it  ?  Everywhere  there  was 
danger.  Checcorosso,  anxious  to  get  him  into  his  hands,  had 
persuaded  Bonifazio,  his  friend,  to  ask  him  to  a  dinner  in  his 
Castle  Ottieri ;  this  he  refused,  for  he  knew  if  he  had  accepted 
he  would  have  been  made  a  prisoner.  Not  content  with  this, 
Checcorosso  had  published  an  order  that  no  one  throughout 
the  state  should  provide  him  with  lodging  or  provisions.  All 
the  Captains  save  Carlo  Gonzaga  and  Giulio  Varano  had  de- 
parted. Sigismondo  was  alone  with  his  weary  and  sick  men. 
Gonzaga  had  been  given  winter  quarters  at  Orbetello ;  him 
Sigismondo  besought  for  shelter.  Receiving  a  courteous 
reply  he  went  thither,  but  on  his  arrival  he  was  refused  entry. 

He  was  now  forced  once  more  to  enter  the  territory  of 
Siena,  to  go  to  Grossetto,  where  lay  Coreggio,  his  enemy. 
Moreover,  if  he  wished  to  go  farther  his  only  way  lay 
over  the  Chiane  under  Monte  Pescara,  by  a  small  bridge ;  if 
that  were  destroyed  he  was  a  prisoner,  and  escape  impossible, 
for  even  Varano  had  left  him  to  go  home.  But  fortune  was 
with  him,  for  she  ever  favours  the  bold.  Suddenly  he  came 
to  a  country  full  of  cattle,  and  these  fed  his  men.  Then 
wandering  one  night  with  his  troops  under  Monte  Pescara, 
at  dawn  he  found  the  bridge  safe,  and  crossed  the  Chiane, 
abandoning  his  horses  and  baggage,1  for  a  heavy  rain  was 
falling.  At  last  he  came  to  the  territory  of  Scarlino,  which 
belonged  to  the  Lord  of  Piombino,  who  remembering  old 
services,  and  being  afraid  of  the  Florentines,  received  him, 
and  refreshed  both  him  and  his  men.  Then  when  he  had 
asked  for  leave  to  march  through  Florentine  territory  and 
obtained  it,  he  came  at  last  back  to  Rimini. 

1  Battaglini,  op.  clt.  ii.  p.  462.  It  was  in  this  baggage  that  doubtless  the 
Siencse  discovered  Isotta's  letter  to  him,  printed  in  Yriarte,  op.  at.  p.  396. 


XXI 


How  to  explain  the  forebodings  of  disaster  that  come  to  me 
so  mysteriously  in  the  midst  of  good  fortune?  Have  the 
stars  really  power  in  our  hearts,  so  that  we  become  aware  of 
our  fate  sometimes  between  sunrise  and  sunset  on  a  summer's 
day,  even  in  the  fairest  and  most  serene  weather,  when  there 
is  no  sound  in  all  the  world  but  the  endless  song  of  the  cicala? 
Then  surely,  if  ever,  we  should  be  at  peace,  and  yet  our  hearts 
are  suddenly  restless,  and  we  know  not  why. 

It  was  such  a  restless  foreboding  that  had  possessed  me 
all  through  the  previous  summer,  nor  when  Sigismondo 
accepted  the  command  offered  by  Siena  was  my  melancholy 
lightened.  I  expected  disaster ;  alas  !  I  was  not  wrong.  For 
even  though  he  had  been  successful  there  were  other  things 
which  assured  us  of  trouble — the  old  quarrel  with  Aragon,  for 
instance,  the  real  personal  grievance  he  had  against  Sigismondo 
in  that  affair  of  the  Tuscan  war,  when  our  Lord,  having 
received  part  of  the  payment  promised,  went  over  to  the 
Florentines  without  returning  the  money  he  had  received 
from  Aragon. 

It  is  true  that  when  King  Alfonso  first  heard  of  that 
secret  peace  signed  at  Lodi  between  Sforza  and  Venice  he 
had  offered  a  pardon  to  Sigismondo,  and  employment  too,  and 
even  an  alliance ;  but  in  those  days  our  Lord's  terms  had  been 
too  high,  so  that  no  agreement  had  been  come  to.  Yet 
indeed,  as  Sigismondo  was  now  to  see,  it  would  have  been 
altogether  to  his  advantage  to  make  that  treaty. 

For  King  Alfonso,  seeing  the  Venetians,  as  well  as  the 
Florentines  and  the  Duke  of  Milan,  intent  on  peace,  allowed 
243 


244  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

himself  to  be  persuaded  by  the  exhortations  of  the  Pope  to 
join  with  them  in  the  pacification  of  Italy.  Yet  from  the 
league  then  established  two  powers  only  were  excluded  by 
the  hatred  of  the  King,  and  these  were  Genoa  and  Sigis- 
mondo  Malatesta,  Signore  of  Rimini. 

Certainly  the  Pope  when  he  agreed  thus  to  exclude 
Sigismondo,  whom  he  loved,  expected  that  when  the  greater 
wars  were  disposed  of  the  smaller  quarrels  too  would  gradu- 
ally disappear;  and  therefore  in  the  treaty  it  was  declared 
that  formal  inquiry  should  be  made  as  to  whether  or  in  what 
degree  Sigismondo  was  the  king's  debtor,  and,  proved  indeed 
to  be  defaulter,  when  the  debt  were  paid  he  should  enjoy 
all  the  privileges  of  the  peace,  which  if  his  debt  were  not 
proven  he  should  share  at  once.  If  this  were  the  Pope's 
thought  certainly  it  was  not  King  Alfonso's.  He  was  intent 
upon  revenge,  for  he  thought  he  had  been  played  with  in 
the  affair  of  Tuscany. 

Now  about  this  time  Giacomo  Piccinino,  discharged  by 
the  Venetians,  still  smarting  with  jealousy  of  his  rival,  Sforza, 
without  even  the  possession  of  the  smallest  castle  or  the 
means  of  maintaining  the  numerous  Bracceschi  troops,  sighing 
to  build  up  a  state  at  all  costs,  turned  lightly  to  anyone  who 
flattered  him  with  hopes,  wandering  about  Italy,  first  around 
Bologna,  which,  remembering  that  Nicolo  Piccinino  had  once 
held  it,  he  tried  to  stir  up  to  revolt.  Then  in  Romagna, 
where  Novello,  at  this  time  unfriendly  to  Sigismondo,  gave 
him  hospitality,  King  Alfonso  suggested  to  him  that  he 
should  prey  upon  our  dominion.  Nor  was  he  slow  to  take  the 
hint,  for  he  had  with  him  some  four  thousand  five  hundred 
horse  and  foot.  Sigismondo,  having  done  everything  for  his 
own  defence,  sent  for  help  both  to  the  Pope  and  to  Sforza, 
proving  to  them  that  King  Alfonso  was  again  ready  to 
turn  Italy  upside  down  to  satisfy  his  own  hunger  and  am- 
bition. The  Duke,  rather,  as  we  thought,  for  hatred  of 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  245 

Piccinino  than  for  love  of  Sigismondo,  sent  some  three 
thousand  horse  into  Romagna  to  assist  us;  while  the  Pope 
excommunicated  Piccinino  as  a  turbulent  invader  of  the 
States  of  the  Church,  besides  forbidding  anyone  to  grant 
him  assistance  of  any  kind.  Piccinino  then  left  Romagna, 
and  proceeded  against  the  Sienese,  whom  Alfonso  hated 
scarcely  less  then  he  hated  us.  This  again  proved  a  mis- 
fortune for  Sigismondo,  for  the  Sienese  thought  they  suffered 
that  we  might  go  free. 

But  worse  still  was  to  befall  us,  for  in  those  days  Pope 
Nicholas  died,  and  after  a  few  days  was  succeeded  by  Cal-\ 
lixtus  III.,  Alfonso  Borgia  of  Valencia,  who  owed  much  to> 
the  King,  for  he  had  come  into  Italy  as  one  of  his  counsellors, 
and  by  his  influence  had  won  first  the  purple  and  then,  as 
some  say,  the  tiara.  Eneo  Sylvio,  Bishop  of  Siena,  was  in 
Rome  at  this  time,  and  used  all  his  influence  to  help  his  city, 
even  going  to  Naples  to  persuade  the  King,  with  whom  he 
was  friendly,  to  call  Piccinino  southward.  And  at  length 
Alfonso  agreed  to  do  so,  sending  Giacomo  to  Abruzzo  with 
the  command  of  eighteen  hundred  men. 

Now  the  new  Pope  was  more  eager  than  Nicholas,  if  it 
were  possible,  to  send  a  crusade  against  the  Turks,  and  he 
hoped  that,  seeing  Italy  was  nearly  pacified,  Alfonso  would 
send  his  fleet  to  support  the  Papal  ships  under  Cardinal 
Scarampo ;  but  he  was  disappointed.  For  Alfonso,  instead  of 
sending  his  ships  eastward,  made  war  on  Genoa.  Sigismondo, 
seeing  this,  and  knowing  that  Aragon  thought  of  nothing 
but  his  own  aggrandisement,  feared  that  if  Piccinino  were 
again  sent  against  him  under  the  King's  banners  he  would 
look  in  vain  for  help,  both  from  the  Pope,  who  feared 
Alfonso,  and  from  the  Duke  of  Milan,  whose  daughter  was 
espoused  to  the  son  of  Ferdinando.  Truly  Sigismondo  saw 
in  that  marriage  one  more  barrier  removed  between  him  and 
the  King's  vengeance.  Nor  were  the  Lords  of  Urbino  and 


246  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

Pesaro  likely  to  remain  idle,  for  they  each  hoped,  if  he  were 
destroyed,  to  inherit  his  dominion.  And  indeed  Duke 
Federigo  at  this  time  traversed  Italy  to  stir  up  hatred  against 
our  Lord,  who,  remembering  his  strength  and  the  prosperity 
of  old  days,  instead  of  securing  himself  by  a  wise  marriage, 
followed  his  heart,  and  married  Madonna  Isotta  degli  Atti, 
for  she  had  long  besought  him  to  make  her  his  wife.1 

How  may  I  explain  this  seeming  madness  in  him,  this 
strange  indifference  to  danger,  to  the  danger  that  always 
threatened  him  in  the  hatred  of  Aragon,  the  envy  of  Fede- 
rigo of  Urbino  ?  No,  I  cannot  explain  this  marriage,  unless 
I  assure  myself  that  love  in  him  conquered  ambition,  so  that 
he  would  rather  pleasure  Madonna  than  secure  his  dominion. 
Certainly  we  rejoiced  in  Rimini,  for  but  few  after  all  were 
aware  of  our  danger ;  but  even  during  the  festivities  of  his 
marriage  it  was  necessary  to  take  some  precautions  against 
the  tireless  hate  of  Urbino,  so  that  we  sent  Count  Antonio 
di  Monte  Sapigno,  Podesta  of  Fano,  and  Nicolo  Panciuto 
degli  Adimari,  to  Duke  Borso  d'Este,  to  offer  him  Madonna 
Lucrezia2  in  marriage  for  his  brother  Alberto.  Nor  were 
we  disappointed,  for  the  House  of  Este  was  our  friend,  and 
the  contract  was  signed  on  26th  February.  For  this  cause, 
if  for  no  other,  Duke  Borso  did  his  utmost  to  befriend  us. 
Knowing  the  hatred  of  Urbino,  he  wrote  to  Federigo,  who 
was  in  Milan,  begging  him  to  call  upon  him  in  Ferrara  on  his 
return.  And  in  the  meantime  Sigismondo,  with  some  coun- 
sellors, taking  me  with  him,  went  to  Ferrara ;  but,  as  Fortune 
ordered  it,  on  the  day  after  Federigo's  arrival,  when  we 
should  have  been  composing  our  differences,  Sigismondo  was 
somewhat  ill,  so  that  the  Duke  brought  Federigo  to  our 
apartments.  Sigismondo  advanced,  with  the  help  of  a  stick, 

1  See  letter  from  Isotta  to  Sigismondo  before  Sorano  (quoted  in  Yriarte, 
op.  fit.  p.  396). 

2  Lucrezia  was  Sigismondo's  daughter  by  Isotta. 


I 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  247 

it  is  true,  as  far  as  the  door,  limping  to  receive  them;  yet 
there  was  no  sign  of  friendship  between  him  and  Urbino, 
but  only  of  enmity.  The  Duke,  seeing  Sigismondo  in  such 
a  plight,  dissembled,  ordering  the  table  to  be  laid,  and  then 
proposed  that  on  the  following  day  we  should  go  to  his 
villa,  di  Belriguardo,  hoping  that  there  some  sort  of  under- 
standing might  be  arrived  at.  So  we  went  to  Belriguardo, 
Federigo  bringing  with  him  Messer  Antonio  da  Pesaro, 
gentleman-in-waiting  to  the  King ;  Michele,  a  Chancellor  of 
the  Signor  of  Pesaro;  and  Benedetto  de'  Barzi,  his  friend, 
who  was  studying  in  the  University  of  Ferrara,  all  our 
enemies,  together  with  Messer  Antonio  Paltroni,  his  first 
secretary;  while  Sigismondo  took  with  him  two  Venetian 
gentlemen — Giovanni  da  Mantova,  one  of  his  secretaries,  and 
Anastagi,  his  principal  secretary  and  counsellor.  But,  in 
spite  of  the  Duke's  good  offices,  the  meeting  was  altogether 
unfortunate,  for  Federigo  and  our  Lord  began  to  remind  one 
another  of  their  injuries,  and  from  this  came  near  to  blows, 
each  apologising  to  the  Duke,  who  did  his  best  to  bring 
peace  between  them ;  but  Sigismondo  would  hear  nothing  of 
compromise,  so  that  at  last,  seeing  that  all  delay  was  useless, 
the  negotiations  were  broken  off — on  the  next  day  Federigo 
departing,  as  we  found,  not  for  Urbino,  but  for  the  King- 
dom. And  before  long  we  heard  that  he  had  told  the  King 
he  was  ready  to  attack  us,  while  at  the  same  time  he  held 
out  to  Giacomo  Piccinino  the  hope  of  founding  a  dominion 
on  our  ruin. 

Yet  once  again,  though  we  were  full  of  anxiety,  Duke 
Borso  and  Francesco  Sforza  -stood  between  us  and  danger, 
the  one  from  love  of  Sigismondo,  the  other  from  fear  that 
Giacomo  Piccinino  might  annoy  his  brother,  Alessandro  of 
Pesaro.  Then  it  was  proposed  that  we  should  pay  a  certain 
fixed  sum  to  the  King,  who  thereupon  should  receive  us  into 
his  favour.  But  Sigismondo  would  not,  for  he  asserted  that, 


248  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

according  to  the  articles  of  the  League,  it  had  first  to  be 
decided  whether  he  was  debtor  to  the  King.  Ah!  why  was 
he  so  obstinate,  when  even  the  Pope  and  Cardinal  Eneo 
Sylvio  Piccolomini  endeavoured  to  persuade  him?  But  in 
truth  he  refused  to  believe  that  the  King  would  ever  attack 
him ;  and  to  make  more  sure,  knowing  that  now  for  some 
time  the  King  had  been  in  love  with  a  noble  maiden  of 
Naples,  Madonna  Lucrezia  di  Gerlola  d'Alagna,  who,  as 
youth  allowed  her  with  a  grey-haired  lover,  was  certain  of 
obtaining  all  she  asked,  Sigismondo  sent  her,  by  Roberto  his 
son,  a  most  precious  and  fine  ruby,  asking  at  the  same  time 
for  a  niece  of  hers  in  marriage  for  Roberto.  Then,  thinking 
himself  safe,  knowing,  or  thinking  he  knew,  the  good  will  of 
Florence,  Sforza,  and  Duke  Borso,  in  the  autumn  he  dis- 
charged the  greater  part  of  his  troops.  Scarcely  had  he 
done  this  when  he  heard  that  Federigo  and  Piccinino  were 
advancing  from  the  Kingdom  upon  us.1  All  that  Duke 

1  The  following  letter  from  Federigo  of  Urbino  to  the  Signori  of  Siena 
is  interesting,  and  was  written  at  this  time : — 

MIGHTY  AND  POTENT  LORDS,  AND  FATHERS  HONOURABLE  AND  BELOVED, — 
I  have  immediate  need  of  a  master  mortar-founder,  and  being  informed  that 
there  is  in  Siena  one  such  able  and  sufficiently  qualified,  who  would  well 
satisfy  me,  and  whom  I  knew  when  detained  there  ill  £this  was  in  1453^,  I 
urgently  pray  your  Lordships  as  a  particular  favour  to  give  him  leave  of 
absence.  And  my  need  of  him  being  urgent,  I  trust  that  he  will  come 
quickly  along  with  the  bearer  hereof,  and  [  shall  pay  him  his  dues  that  he 
shall  be  well  satisfied.  I  have  reason  to  hope  that  your  Lordships  will 
oblige  me  as  to  this  artist,  for  in  all  that  tends  to  the  weal  of  your  Republic 
I  would  be  most  affectionate  and  observant  beyond  any  other  ally  you  have  in 
the  world.  As  for  the  mortars,  I  want  to  use  them  against  the  Lord 
Sigismondo,  the  enemy  of  your  Lordships,  to  whom  I  commend  myself. 

From  URBINO,  the  'jth  of  November  1457. 

Again  : 

MIGHTY  AND  POTENT  LORDS,  DEAREST  FATHERS,  —  I  have  not 
cared  to  write  sooner  to  your  Lordships,  nothing  further  having  been  de- 
cided by  the  serene  King  regarding  peace  or  war  with  the  Lord  Sigismondo  ; 
but  I  have  at  length  determined  to  write  this,  in  order  that  your  Lordships 
may  not  marvel  at  my  silence  and  that  you  may  be  informed  how  matters 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  249 

Borso  could  do,  and  he  did  much,  even  sending  ambassadors 
to  Piccinino  (who  would  have  heard  them  but  for  Federigo), 
was  of  no  avail,  and  by  November  we  were  face  to  face  with 
two  enemies.  Yet  we  stood  not  alone,  for  Novello,  quite  recon- 
ciled with  Sigismondo  now,  sent  for  Piccinino,  who  loved  him, 
and  told  him  that  as  he  was  childless  he  had  determined  to  leave 
his  dominions  to  him,  Piccinino,  and  for  this  cause  he  hoped 
he  would  refrain  from  making  war  on  his  brother.  This  so 
took  Piccinino  that  from  that  day  he  gave  Federigo  rather 
hindrance  than  support.  Then  winter  came  in  earnest,  and 
gave  us  time  to  think.  And,  thinking,  there  came  into  Sigis- 

stand.  And  I  hereby  advise  you  how  the  Lord  Sigismondo  has  sent  many 
humble  and  respectful  messages,  through  his  son,  to  the  serene  king,  suppli- 
cating that  his  Majesty  would  condescend  to  have  mercy,  and,  notwith- 
standing misconduct  so  gross  as  to  merit  no  favour  nor  compassion,  that  his 
Majesty  would  take  to  himself  his  sons  as  his  Majesty's  slaves,  and  would 
deign  to  decide  that  they  should  not  go  begging  their  bread.  And  his  son 
besought  his  Majesty  to  permit  that  his  father  should  come  and  throw 
himself  at  his  feet,  with  a  halter  round  his  neck,  publicly  to  crave  mercy, 
bringing  with  him  as  much  money  as  possible  and  the  jewels  formerly 
offered ;  and,  should  this  not  suffice,  that  his  Majesty  might  take  whatever 
else  of  his  he  would,  until  satisfied.  His  serene  Majesty  replied  that  the 
youth  should  remain  at  Naples  whilst  he  went  to  Magione,  and  that  he  would 
cause  our  answer  to  be  sent  through  his  council.  Thus  passed  many  days  with- 
out further  incident.  And  although  the  ambassador  of  the  Duke  of  Modena 
strongly  interceded,  no  further  reply  was  obtained,  nor  any  other  resolution 
come  to,  things  remaining  in  suspense.  And  I  am  informed  that  the 
Serene  King  is  decided  to  exact  the  sum  demanded  of  twenty-seven  thousand 
ducats  of  the  highest  value  and  seventy  thousand  for  expenses  ;  besides  in- 
sisting on  restitution  of  my  territory  without  restoring  his  own  conquests. 
But  the  Lord  Sigismondo's  people  declare  it  impossible  for  him  to  give 
such  a  sum  in  cash,  though  he  might  pay  twenty  thousand  down  with  the 
jewels,  and  as  far  as  sixty  thousand  by  instalments,  so  that  I  do  not  see  how 
the  matter  can  well  be  arranged.  I,  however,  hourly  look  for  further  advices, 
and  your  Lordships  will  be  informed  of  what  I  hear,  for  things  cannot  now 
remain  much  longer  in  suspense,  Gottefredo  being  gone  to  Naples  with  the 
Lord  Sigismondo's  ultimatum. 

FEDERIGO,  Count  of  Montefeltro 

Urbino  and  Durante  Captain-General 

of  the  Serene  King  of  dragon. 

From  URBINO,  2nd  May  1458. 


250  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

mondo's  mind  a  remembrance  of  what  the  Florentines  had 
done  when,  hard  pressed  by  the  King,  Tuscany  had  been 
invaded:  how  to  distract  Aragon,  they  had  determined  to 
invite  Rene  of  Anjou  into  Italy  to  reawaken  trouble  in 
the  dominions  of  Alfonso.  Therefore,  without  wasting  a 
moment,  Sigismondo  sent  Messer  Ranieri  de'  Maschio  to 
propose  this  to  the  Doge  of  Genoa,  who  was  in  like  case 
with  himself,  and  at  the  same  time  he  sent  the  condottiere 
Colella  da  Napoli  and  Fosco,  a  Neapolitan  gentleman,  exiles 
under  the  House  of  Aragon,  to  King  Rene  d' Anjou  and  to 
Duke  Jean,  his  son.  By  these  it  was  quickly  arranged  that 
Duke  Jean,  with  the  flower  of  the  troops  of  France,  should 
come  into  Italy  against  Alfonso. 

The  Doge  of  Genoa,  Campofregoso,  agreed  to  give  the 
Castelletto  of  Genoa,  and  all  the  fortresses  of  the  Republic, 
into  the  hands  of  King  Rene;  while  Duke  Jean  would  be 
appointed  governor,  with  an  annual  allowance  of  one  hundred 
thousand  scudi.  A  natural  daughter  of  the  King  was 
promised  in  marriage  to  the  Doge,  and  a  dowry,  both  in 
money,  and  in  lands  about  Marseilles,  would  be  given  her. 
Furthermore,  if  they  acquired  the  Kingdom  the  Doge  would 
be  given  some  considerable  Lordship  within  it,  while  his 
brother  also  would  receive  a  like  reward.  Both  were  to 
serve  under  Duke  Jean ;  and  Sigismondo  was  to  support  the 
enterprise  in  every  possible  way,  giving  over  in  the 
meantime  Monte  Fiore,  with  its  stronghold,  and  other 
places,  as  a  pledge.  All  this  was  arranged  that  winter,  while 
Sigismondo  gathered  about  him  every  soldier  he  could,  so 
that  when  spring  came  he  had  in  his  service  very  many 
Captains  with  their  companies.1  Scarcely,  however,  had  the 
first  skirmishes  begun  (in  which,  as  it  happened,  Antonello  da 
Forli  and  Marco  de'  Pii,  in  command  of  some  of  our  companies, 

1  Battaglini,  op.  clt.  ii.  p.  472,  gives  a  list  of  them. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  251 

were  routed)  when  news  reached  us  that  King  Alfonso, 
while  hunting  in  Puglia,  had  caught  a  fever,  and  was  dead. 
Thus  once  more  we  were  delivered  out  of  the  mouth  of  the 
lion,  for  the  war  in  Romagna  came  to  a  standstill. 

It  was  necessary  to  decide  whether  or  not  we  should 
renew  it.  First,  Sigismondo  sent  Broglio  to  the  Kingdom 
to  see  what  could  be  done,  whether  the  Prince  of  Taranto 
would  support  the  House  of  Anjou  or  the  House  of  Aragon; 
but  Broglio  found  so  many  plots  in  the  Kingdom,  the  Pope 
being  anxious  to  exalt  his  nephews,  while  Sforza  wished  to 
abide  by  the  settlement  of  Pope  Nicholas,  that  nothing  could 
be  decided,  and  indeed  he  had  scarcely  returned  to  us  when 
news  came  of  the  Pope's  death ;  for  he  was  an  old  man,  and 
feeble,  and  all  his  hopes  were  disappointed,  and  especially 
that  of  the  crusade  against  the  Turks. 

All  our  fortunes  now  seemed  to  rest  on  the  future  Pope. 
If  a  man  friendly  to  us  and  to  our  plans  were  elected,  one 
who  would  honour  us  as  Nicholas  had  done,  all  would  be 
well;  but  if  not?  Already  we  were  so  deeply  committed  in 
the  Angevin  affair  that  retreat  was  impossible. 

Those  days  of  the  Conclave  I  shall  never  forget.  First, 
we  heard  that  Estouteville  had  been  elected,  and  that  was 
none  so  bad,  for  he  would  have  favoured  certainly  the  French 
claims  to  the  Kingdom ;  but  at  last,  though  indeed  we  would 
not  believe  it,  news  came  that  the  Cardinal  of  Siena  was 
Pope,  Eneo  Sylvio  Piccolomini — a  Sienese,  and  therefore  our 
enemy ;  the  uncle  of  Goro  Lolli,  whom  Sigismondo  had 
treated  so  scurvily  before  Siena,  and  therefore  our  enemy ; 
the  dear  friend  of  Alfonso  who  had  ever  favoured  him,  and 
therefore  our  deadly  foe.  The  Cardinal  of  Siena  was  Pope. 
Then  I  remembered  the  words  of  Federigo  the  Emperor: 
"  I  seem  to  see  you  Cardinal  and  future  Pope."  If  we  had 
known  the  tragedy  that  awaited  us  in  that  day's  election ! 
Ah !  why  did  we  not  remember  that  a  Sienese  cannot  forget 


252  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

an  injury,  that  what  is  once  done  can  never  be  undone? 
Truly  in  my  heart  I  reminded  myself  of  that  Condottiere  who 
had  won  countless  victories  for  the  city  of  Siena,  so  that 
when  the  Commune  thought  to  reward  him  they  could  find 
no  honour  great  enough  to  bestow  upon  him.  Then  a  citizen 
rose  up,  and  said :  "  Since  we  must  bestow  upon  him  only  the 
greatest  honour,  for  that  alone  is  worthy  of  him  and  of  us, 
come,  let  us  kill  him,  and  worship  him  as  our  Saint."  If  such 
were  their  hatred  of  those  who  had  served  them  well,  what 
remained  then  for  those  who  had  failed  them,  deserted  them, 
as  they  thought,  betrayed  them  ? 

Yes,  indeed  Fortune  had  served  us  the  worst  trick  of  all. 
Eneo  Piccolomini  was  Pope,  and  remembering  ^Eneas,  he  had 
taken  the  name  of  Pius  II. 


XXII 

IT  was  a  moment  full  of  danger  for  the  peace  of  Italy. 
In  the  interval  between  the  death  of  Callixtus  III.  and  the 
election  of  Pius  II.  Ferdinando,  determined  to  force  the  new 
Pope,  whoever  he  might  be,  to  acknowledge  him  as  King  of 
Naples,  had  allowed  Piccinino  to  quit  Romagna  and  to  ap- 
proach Rome,  seizing  Assisi,  Nocera,  and  Gualdo.  While 
this  movement  of  Piccinino's  benefited  us,  though  he  forced 
us  to  buy  back  our  strongholds — for  the  time  at  least  we 
were  rid  of  him,  yet  we  foresaw  that  he  would  soon  be  dis- 
lodged from  the  cities  he  had  seized  from  the  Holy  See,  for 
Pius  II.  was  already  friendly  to  Ferdinando,  and  presently 
sent  to  crown  him  —  Broglio  urged  Sigismondo  to  send 
Piccinino  money  to  encourage  him  to  continue  to  annoy  the 
Pope ;  but  nothing  was  done,  for  Sigismondo  preferred  to 
trust  altogether  to  the  coming  of  the  Angevins,  whom  we  had 
called  into  Italy,  and  to  the  rising  of  the  Neapolitan  Barons, 
which  had  already  begun. 

Now  it  happened  that  a  certain  Stefano,  a  secretary  of 
Prince  Jean's  had  already  set  out  to  meet  the  Prince 
of  Taranto,  and  Sigismondo,  hearing  of  it  (and  indeed  it  was 
at  his  request  that  Stefano  had  been  sent),  despatched  Broglio 
again  to  the  Kingdom,  under  pretext  of  buying  salt.  After 
encountering  many  storms,  which  drove  him  to  the  coast  of 
Schiavonia,  Broglio  at  length  came  to  Taranto  at  about  the 
same  time  as  the  secretary  Stefano,  whom,  fortunately,  he  was 
able  to  identify.  The  Prince  was  at  first  still  averse  from 
dealing  with  the  Angevins,  but  Broglio  pointed  out  to  him 
that,  since  among  so  many  Barons  he  alone  had  not  been 


254  SIG1SMONDO   MALATESTA 

present  at  Ferdinando's  coronation,  he  would  be  foolish  to 
remain  without  support.  So  he  persuaded  him  to  join  the 
league. 

Thus  affairs  in  Italy  appeared  to  be  moving  not  altogether 
to  our  disadvantage.  So  Sigismondo,  having  no  war  at  home, 
save  the  continual  war  with  Urbino,  which,  I  think,  never 
ceased,  seized  about  this  time,  in  revenge  for  his  losses,  the 
Castles  of  Secchiano  and  Uffigliano,  taking  them  by  storm,  and 
burning  them.  He  had  also  obtained  by  surrender  Sarcorbaro, 
Castellaccia,  and  Carpagna,  when  the  news  we  had  expected 
daily  reached  us  at  last — to  wit,  that  Piccinino  compelled 
by  Ferdinando  to  evacuate  the  cities  he  had  seized  in  the 
Dukedom  of  Spoleto,  was  returned  to  join  Federigo,  so  we 
abandoned  Carpagna,  and  returned  to  Macereta.  Then  followed 
a  series  of  skirmishes,  in  which  we  lost  Tavoleto  and  the 
Castel  di  Maiolo,  and  we  should  have  suffered  more  hurt  still, 
but  that  winter  came  on  and  put  an  end  to  fighting.  Indeed, 
our  case  was  bad  enough,  for  we  had  three  implacable  enemies, 
Ferdinando  of  Naples,  Federigo  of  Urbino,  and  the  Pope, 
strong  enough  to  band  all  Italy  together  against  us.  It  was 
from  the  last  of  these,  in  many  ways  the  most  powerful,  that, 
if  at  all,  we  might  hope  to  come  to  terms.  For  if  Nicholas  V. 
and  Callixtus  III.  had  been  eager  to  bring  peace  to  Italy  in 
order  to  make  war  against  the  Turks,  Pius  II.,  a  man  of  deep 
knowledge,  devoted  to  the  old  learning,  was  altogether 
possessed  by  this  idea.  To  this  end  he  left  Rome  in  January, 
and  though  the  season  was  severe,  set  out  for  Mantua,  whither 
he  had  called  a  conference  to  establish  that  universal  peace  he 
so  desired  in  Christendom. 

Our  position  was  one  of  extreme  difficulty,  because  our 
dangers  had  led  us  into  intrigues  of  every  sort,  so  that  we 
feared  the  success  of  one  lest  it  should  expose  us  to  the 
results  that  would  follow  the  failure  of  another.  We  had 
committed  ourselves  almost  beyond  recall  to  the  Angevin 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  255 

luse ;  at  the  same  time,  fearing  lest  that  might  fail,  we  had 
entered  into  negotiations  with  Ferdinando.  We  had  urged 
Piccinino  to  make  war  on  the  Pope,  already  our  enemy,  yet 
now  we  must  be  prepared  to  submit  ourselves  to  his  arbitra- 
tion. Only  with  Urbino  we  had  not  dallied,  but  had  even 
been  his  enemy,  as  he  was  ours.  On  turning  all  this  over  in 
his  mind,  Sigismondo  determined  to  go  to  Milan  to  recom- 
mend himself  to  Sforza,  and  to  show  him  that  from  him 
alone  we  expected  salvation.  Nor  had  we  altogether 
neglected  to  recommend  ourselves  to  the  Pope,  for  putting 
ourselves  in  the  hand  of  Messer  Francesco  Filelfo,  a  most 
illustrious  and  famous  scholar,  very  eloquent  and  learned,  we, 
remembering  he  had  been  the  Pope's  master,  contrived  that 
he  should  plead  our  cause.  Messer  Francesco  was  full  of 
encouragement,  and  praised  us  warmly  for  our  wisdom  in 
appealing  to  the  Duke  of  Milan.  Nevertheless,  because  we 
were  weak,  and,  like  the  sick  man  of  whom  Dante  speaks : 

Che  non  puo  trovar  posa  in  sulle  piume 
Ma  con  dar  volta  suo  dolore  scherma, 

we  could  not  be  content,  fearing  that  Sforza  would  not 
hesitate  to  sacrifice  us  in  some  compromise  if  he  saw  fit; 
therefore  we  kept  alive  the  negotiations  against  Ferdinando, 
Broglio  going  again  to  Taranto  for  this  purpose. 

Meantime  we  heard  that  the  Pope's  journey  northward 
from  Rome  was  like  a  triumphal  progress.  Carried  in  a 
litter  (for  the  crowds  pressed  too  much  upon  him  if  he  were 
on  horseback)  he  passed  through  Assisi  to  Perugia,  staying 
there  some  thirty  days ;  thence  he  made  his  way  to  Corsi- 
gnano,  his  birthplace,  whose  name  he  changed  to  Pienza, 
establishing  there  a  bishopric ;  and  after  three  days  passed  to 
Siena,  where  he  stayed  till  spring  was  come.  About  this 
time  we  had  ill  news  from  the  kingdom,  for  we  heard,  and 
all  Italy  with  us,  that  the  Prince  of  Taranto  was  reconciled 


256  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

with  the  King,  and  on  this  account  Prince  Jean  delayed  his 
enterprise.  Then  came  Broglio,  saying  that  this  was  merely 
a  ruse  to  deceive  Ferdinando,  that  the  Prince  of  Taranto  was 
with  us,  and  continued  the  King's  enemy ;  thus  we  were  be- 
wildered, and  knew  not  what  to  do  or  to  believe. 

Then  news  reached  us  that  the  Pope  had  left  Siena,  and 
was  come  to  Florence,  where  he  was  received  joyfully,  though 
Cosimo  de'  Medici  kept  his  bed,  saying  he  was  sick.  And 
at  last  we  heard  that  Pius  had  set  out  for  Mantua,  going  by 
way  of  Bologna,  which  city,  as  we  expected,  received  him  re- 
luctantly. Then  Sigismondo,  waiting  no  longer,  set  out  for 
Ferrara,  that  he  might  there  greet  the  Pope  as  he  passed, 
coming  by  water  from  Bologna.  All  the  time  he  was  there 
he  did  his  utmost  to  win  the  regard  of  Pius,  paying  him 
court  tirelessly  and  accompanying  him  at  last  to  Mantua. 
Indeed,  Sigismondo  was  almost  alone  among  the  lords  of  Italy 
who  came  to  meet  the  Pope  in  that  city ;  and  even  he  was 
recalled,  much  to  the  Pope's  disgust,  by  the  tireless  and 
cunning  hate  of  Federigo.  For  Piccinino  began  to  attack 
us  again,  urged  on  by  Federigo,  who,  not  to  meet  the  Pope, 
feigned  sickness,  and  kept  his  bed.  Nevertheless,  before  we 
could  reply,  for  we  were  taken  by  surprise,  Piccinino  had 
taken  from  us  fifty-seven  castles  in  all,  and  had  assaulted 
Fano,  though  unsuccessfully.  In  the  meantime,  in  Mantua, 
in  what  hands  was  our  cause  !  The  Duke  of  Milan  hated 
us,  though  secretly,  scarcely  less  than  Federigo  of  Urbino, 
and  was  indeed  partly  won  over  by  the  Count,  who  was 
negotiating  for  a  marriage  within  the  Duke's  family.  As 
for  the  Pope,  who  in  this  affair  between  the  vassals  of  the 
Church  had  great  authority  in  the  conference,  while  prudence 
made  him  side  with  Ferdinando,  had  he  not  been  our  enemy 
ever  since  Sigismondo  betrayed  (as  they  said)  his  city  of 
Siena  ?  Nor  was  he  far  from  thinking  that,  more  than  once, 
we  had,  to  save  ourselves,  urged  Piccinino  to  attack  that 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  257 

Goro  Lolli  too,  the  Pope's  nephew,  had  much  influence 
in  that  Court,  and  he  loved  us  not,  thinking  himself  injured 
in  receiving  only  thanks  for  the  Courser  and  the  Banner  and 
Staff  he  had  brought  Sigismondo  as  gifts  from  the  Sienese. 
These  were  our  judges !  And  so  it  happened  that  when 
publicly  in  the  congress  there  was  a  discussion  as  to  the 
justice  of  the  war  waged  against  us  by  the  King,  the  opinions 
expressed  were  as  various  as  the  disputants  —  the  only 
universal  expression  of  opinion  being  one  of  disgust  that 
Florence  and  Venice,  in  whose  service  our  lord  had  spent  his 
life,  and  in  whose  defence  he  had  so  often  courted  death, 
should  have  abandoned  him  to  the  fury  of  a  foreign  king, 
a  barbarian,  and  a  tyrant,  who  was  moved  merely  by  avarice 
to  injure  and  destroy  him. 

At  last  Sigismondo  could  bear  it  no  longer;  he  deter- 
mined to  go  to  Mantua  to  defend  himself.  So  he  set  out, 
and  coming  there,  seeing  no  better  way,  placed  all  his  affairs 
in  the  hands  of  the  Duke  of  Milan  for  settlement. 

He  could  not  have  done  anything  more  fatal  to  his  cause. 
Sforza  hated  him  for  many  reasons,  and  not  least  because 
he  had  called  the  Angevins  into  Italy.  But  Sigismondo, 
almost  at  his  wits'  end,  remembered  nothing,  nor  did  he  recall 
how  Sforza  himself  had  suffered  when  he  had  placed  his 
affairs  in  the  hands  of  his  father-in-law.  Such  a  man  was 
Francesco  Sforza  that  even  his  enemies,  no  less  than  his  allies, 
trusted  him. 

Such  was  the  state  of  our  affairs  when  Broglio  brought 
us  news  that  Prince  Jean  was  about  to  land  in  the  Kingdom, 
that  already  victory  was  at  hand.  What  to  do  !  Already  we 
were  committed  to  too  many  causes,  nor  were  we  any  longer 
trusted  anywhere.  Yet  Sigismondo  tried  to  withdraw  the 
powers  he  had  given  to  Sforza  to  settle  his  affairs,  but  indeed 
it  was  too  late;  already  the  verdict  was  given  against  us; 
there  only  remained  the  sentence.  It  was  as  follows :— 


258  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

As  debtor  to  the  King,  Sigismondo  must  pay  within  a 
fixed  term  the  sum  owing,  or  lose  Sinigaglia  and  its  contado 
and  the  Vicariate  of  Mondavio.  Meanwhile  these  cities  were 
to  be  held  by  the  Pope.  All  the  territory  that  had  been 
won  in  the  past  from  Urbino  must  be  restored,  and  the 
expenses  of  the  late  war  paid  by  Sigismondo,  or  La  Pergola, 
Macerata,  S.  Agata,  and  other  places  must  be  given  up  to  him. 
In  the  meantime  Federigo  was  to  hold  them.1 

It  was  a  bad  peace,  as  Broglio  said.2  Fortune,  which  had 
given  the  Papacy  to  a  Sienese,  made  us  fear  for  our  dominion. 

Sigismondo  in  his  heart  was  at  bay.  Ah !  I  shall  not 
forget  his  face  when  he  learned  that  verdict ;  truly  it  is  not 
such  men  as  he  that  will  obey  anything,  but  force ;  a  priest's 
word,  even  the  Pope's  was  not  strong  enough  to  break  his 
courage.  Tirelessly  he  prepared  for  defence,  by  arms,  by 
intrigue,  by  bribery,  by  any  means  whatever  that  might  serve 
to  promise  us  the  victory. 

1  There  is  much  confusion  here,  no  two  writers  give  the  same  terms. 
Battaglini,  op.  cit.  ii.  p  492. 

2  Sigismondo   attended  in    person  at  Mantua  to   plead  his  cause.     (Cf. 
Dennistoun's    "Memoirs   of  the   Dukes   of   Urbino."      Vol.    I.  p.    no.) 
Federigo,    however,    only  sent  an    envoy.     When    the  verdict    was    made 
known  to  him  Sigismondo  apparently  at    first  refused  to  be  bound    by  it. 
But  the  Pope  checked  him,  saying:  "Hold  your  peace;  our  care  is  not  for  you: 
but  for  your  House ;  our  pity  belongs  to  your  subjects,  not  yourself,  whose 
manner  of  life  merits  no  commiseration.     However  you  may  defend  it  by  a 
multitude  of  words,  your  whole  life  tells  against  you,  and  your  sole  plea  is 
upon  the  deeds  of  an  ancestry  deserving  well  of  the  Church.      Hence  is  it 
that  we  seek  to  pacify  your  foes ;  and  if  you  now  resist  what  is  fair  and 
equitable,  we  shall  leave  you  in  the  slough  wherein  we  found  you ;  nor  would 
it  surprise  us  were  the  divine  mercy  to  permit  the  poor  to  be  afflicted  for  a 
season  that  you   may    fully  expiate    your   guilt  by  a  bloody  end,  or  by  a 
wretched  and  impoverished  exile." 

It  seems,  however,  that  Federigo  no  less  than  Sigismondo  was  obstinate, 
and  would  make  no  concession,  for  the  Pope  wrote  to  him  as  follows : — 

To  Federigo,  Count  of  Montefeltro,  etc. 

Beloved  son,  we  salute  you.  It  is  our  urgent  desire,  in  accordance  with 
the  charge  committed  to  us,  that  harmony  should  be  restored  between  the 
dissentient  faithful ;  and  to  this  we  are  the  more  urgently  bound  when  mis- 


SIGISMONDO    MALATESTA  259 

First,  it  seemed  good  to  Sigismondo  to  try  to  arrange 
terms  with  Ferdinando,  therefore  he  offered  him  his  son 
Roberto,  with  five  hundred  Lancia^  to  make  war  against  the 
Angevins.  This,  however,  came  to  the  knowledge  of  Picci- 
nino  who  was  angry,  for  all  his  care  was  to  prolong  the  war  in 
the  Kingdom  that  he  might  gain  something ;  therefore,  since  he 
cared  not  to  stand  on  the  losing  side,  he  too  offered  his  sword 
to  Ferdinando. 

Then  was  confusion  worse  confounded,  for  Sforza  inter- 
understandings  arise  between  our  own  friends  and  the  subjects  of  the  Holy 
Roman  Church.  Seeing  therefore  that  quarrels  have  for  some  time  past 
prevailed  under  our  vicars  between  you  and  our  beloved  son,  the  noble  Messer 
Sigismondo  Pandolfo  Malatesta  of  Rimini,  occasioning  bloodshed,  fire-raising, 
rapine,  and  the  like  calamities,  and  that  worse  evils  impend,  unless  we  timely 
avert  them,  we  have  thought  fit  especially  to  intimate  to  you  our  pleasure  that 
a  friendly  adjustment  should  take  place  rather  than  arbitrarily  to  employ  our 
supreme  authority  to  that  end.  Twice  have  we  partly  discussed  this  matter 
at  Florence,  and  now  again  at  Mantua,  and  in  this  good  and  pious  work  we 
have  had  the  aid  of  the  noble  and  ever-beloved  son,  Francesco  Sforza,  Duke 
of  Milan.  We  entertained  the  hope  of  bringing  the  affair  to  a  happy  conclu- 
sion, and  of  ensuring  you  an  honourable  and  lasting  peace,  in  which  your 
credit  and  advantage  should  be  equally  regarded;  nor  shall  this  hope  be 
fallacious  if  you  will  at  all  accede  to  our  mediation.  But  since  you  demand 
very  rigid  conditions,  giving  your  ambassadors  no  discretion  as  to  modifying 
them,  limiting  us  merely  to  ministerial  interference,  it  is  impossible  for  us  to 
bring  about  a  compromise  ;  for  rather  than  thus  accept  a  compulsory  dictation, 
Sigismondo  is  ready  to  try  the  chance  of  war,  and  expose  himself  to  all  im- 
pending risks.  It  is  with  equal  grief  and  astonishment  that  we  perceive 
another  great  explosion  ready  to  burst  forth.  You  despise  the  pacification  we 
offer  you,  sure,  enduring,  advantageous,  honourable  though  it  be.  You  are 
victorious,  and  Sigismondo  acknowledges  you  to  be  so ;  as  worsted  he  is 
ready  to  submit  to  terms,  and  if  you  consent  to  our  arbitration  the  matter  is 
settled.  Better  surely  to  accept  a  certain  and  favourable  proposal  than  to 
hazard  a  doubtful  hope.  You  are  the  conqueror ;  let  not  your  rigour  and 
obstinacy  wrest  from  you  your  conquest.  Often  have  we  read  and  observed 
how  unstable  are  the  events  of  war,  how  rapid  and  various  its  reverses,  how 
constantly  in  the  end  an  over-confident  victor  is  vanquished.  We  therefore 
exhort  your  Highness  in  the  Lord  to  weigh  well  this  matter,  and  if  you 
deem  an  honourable  peace  advantageous  to  your  affairs,  to  leave  open  for  our 
mediation  somewhat  of  the  terms  you  have  dictated  to  your  envoy,  in  which 
case  we  repeat  our  assurance  that  you  will  best  consult  your  own  reputation 
and  advantage.  Given  at  Mantua  2ist  June  in  our  first  year  [1459]- 
See  "  Pii  II.  Commentaria,"  pp.  52,  74. 


260  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

fered,  dissuading  us  from  mixing  in  that  quarrel ;  and  again 
Sigismondo  followed  his  advice,  and  Roberto  remained  in 
Romagna. 

Piccinino,  however,  was  anxious  to  return  to  the  Kingdom, 
for  though  he  cared  not  whom  he  fought,  he  hoped  to 
gain  more  there  than  in  Romagna,  therefore  he  offered  to 
return  to  Sigismondo  all  his  strongholds  if  he  would  give  him 
a  free  and  safe  passage  through  the  Riminese.  Sigismondo 
consented  to  do  this ;  and  after  a  marvellous  march,  in  which 
he  escaped  the  Papal  troops  only  by  a  hair'sbreadth,  Piccinino 
came  into  the  Kingdom,  where,  seeing  that  the  Angevin  cause 
seemed  the  likeliest,  he  deserted  Ferdinando,  j  oining  Prince 
Rene.  Nor  was  he  wrong,  for  presently  we  heard  that 
Ferdinando  in  a  series  of  battles — and  one  was  fought  by 
torchlight — though  aided  by  the  troops  of  Alessandro,  Sforza, 
and  Federigo  of  Urbino,  had  been  utterly  defeated,  so  that 
he  feared  even  to  lose  the  capital ;  and  indeed  he  would  have 
been  altogether  crushed,  but  that  Piccinino,  wishing  to  pro- 
long the  war  refrained  from  pressing  him  when  he  was  in 
his  power. 

Now  Sigismondo  had  sworn  at  Mantua  not  to  engage  in 
war  for  ten  years ;  but  seeing  the  Papal  troops  defeated  and 
the  Angevins  victorious,  knowing  too  that  he  was  already  in 
disgrace  with  the  Pope,  both  on  account  of  his  aid  to  Piccinino 
and  for  the  interference  of  Roberto,  his  son,  in  the  quarrel  of 
Jesi  and  Ancona,1  urged  thereto  by  Piccinino,  who  proposed 
to  make  war  on  the  Pope  in  his  own  territory,  Sigismondo 
seized  Mondavio,  and  began  to  besiege  Sinigaglia.  And  truly 
all  might  have  gone  well  if  Piccinino  had  advanced  instead  of 

1  It  seems  (according  to  Battaglini,  op,  cit.  ii.  p.  500)  that  the  people  of 
Jesi  had  ravaged  the  lands  of  the  people  of  Ancona.  The  latter,  who  had 
collected  an  army  for  revenge,  offered  the  command  to  Sigismondo.  He  did 
not  go  himself,  but  sent  his  son  to  help  them.  However,  the  Pope  favoured 
Jesi,  and  hired  Ludovico  de'  Malvezzi  of  Bologna  with  eight  hundred  horse 
and  two  hundred  foot.  Roberto  defeated  him. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  261 

wasting  his  time  in  plundering  the  castles  he  had  taken,  but 
since  he  waited,  Alessandro  Sforza  and  Federigo  of  Urbino 
had  time  to  reform  their  troops  in  front  of  him,  and  he  found 
it  expedient  to  return  to  the  Abruzzi. 

Thus  the  year  came  to  an  end,  in  uncertainty  and  fore- 
boding. For  Sigismondo  could  not  but  fear  that  when  spring 
came,  if  it  were  in  his  power,  the  Pope  would  take  vengeance 
for  his  broken  promise  and  for  that  stronghold  he  had  seized. 
Nor  was  he  wrong :  such  vengeance  as  he  could  take  he  took 
speedily.  The  Cardinal  di  S.  Pietro  in  Vincolis  arraigned 
our  Lord,  truly  in  his  absence,  and  notwithstanding  this,  and 
that  he  could  not  answer  the  charges  brought  against  him, 
convicted  him  of  Rebellion,  of  Heresy  in  matters  of  Faith, 
and  I  know  not  what  else,  the  Pope  excommunicating  him, 
and  declaring  all  his  property  confiscated  by  the  Treasury, 
and  all  his  lands  by  the  Holy  See.  Then  there  was  no  time 
to  be  afraid ;  all  he  could  do  was  to  act.  He  sent  Broglio 
to  the  Prince  of  Taranto,  reminding  him  of  his  promises,  and 
then  prepared  to  take  Sinigaglia.  Now  this  city,  already 
strongly  garrisoned  by  the  Pope,  was  then  fortified  with 
double  walls  on  the  weaker  side,  and  indeed  had  been 
placed  in  such  a  state  that  it  seemed  impregnable.  More- 
over, when  spring  came  we  found  the  Pope  had  sent  against 
us  three  thousand  horse  and  two  thousand  foot  under 
Ludovico  Malvezzi  and  other  captains,  over  whom  was 
Bartolomeo,  Bishop  of  Cornato,  for  Federigo  of  Urbino  was 
still  busy  with  the  rebels  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Rome. 
Although  our  forces,  some  thirteen  hundred  horse  and  five 
hundred  foot,  under  Bernardo  da  Reggio,  Cecco  Brandolino, 
Simone  Malaspina,  Cola  Coglionese,  Nicoletto  da  Canossa, 
Count  Roberto  di  Montevecchio,  Paolo  da  Viterbo, 
Petruccio  da  S.  Arcangelo,  Soardino  da  Barignano,  and 
Roberto  Malatesta,  were  manifestly  inferior  in  number, 
Sigismondo  determined  to  meet  the  Papal  forces,  and  to 


262  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

defeat  them,  or,  in  the  attempt,  to  render  up  his  life  to  God. 
Nor  was  the  affair  perhaps  so  desperate  as  it  seemed,  for  a 
small  number  of  experienced  troops  may  easily  overcome  a 
horde  of  recruits  such  as  composed  the  Papal  army. 

It  was  29th  July  when  Sigismondo  called  to  him  Panciuto 
degli  Adimari,  his  secretary,  and  gave  him  the  orders  for 
the  march  and  the  attack :  how  the  skirmishers  were  to  go 
forward,  how  one  fight  was  to  follow  another,  and  how  the 
foot  were  to  move  in  the  battle.  Then,  having  sent  on  his 
spies,  our  scouts  too  went  forward,  so  that  we  might  have 
news  continually,  and  at  last,  two  hours  before  dawn,  we 
moved  from  Mondavio  towards  Castiglione  de'  Castracani 
which  we  reached  at  daybreak,  and  when  the  sun  rose  there 
lay  the  enemy  not  four  miles  away,  his  banners  lazily  waving 
in  the  sunrise,  his  whole  camp  astir,  while  now  and  then  the 
faint  call  of  a  bugle  reached  us  on  the  fresh  morning  air. 
We  came  to  a  halt,  and  the  captains  riding  up,  Sigismondo 
unfolded  to  them  his  plan  of  attack.  He  pointed  out  that 
the  enemy  was  encamped  loosely  and  without  order,  as  though 
they  had  no  fear  of  so  small  an  army  as  ours ;  but,  said  he, 
pride  ever  goeth  before  a  fall,  and  nothing  is  more  natural 
than  that  a  small  army  experienced  in  war,  and  taught  as  it 
were  in  the  same  school,  should  rout  such  a  horde  of  untrained 
recruits.  He  was  certain  of  winning,  he  said,  if  the  Con- 
dottieri  would  but  remember  his  orders,  and  would  quickly 
help  and  relieve  one  another  and  fight  with  stubbornness, 
for  nothing  less  than  the  total  defeat  of  that  rabble  would 
content  him.  Nor  was  he  without  a  favourable  presage  of 
the  victory  they  were  about  to  claim  from  God,  for  on  the 
evening  before  an  eagle  had  swept  from  the  sky,  and  rested 
for  a  moment  on  his  tent,  as  though  to  remind  him  of  his 
ever-victorious  ancestor,  Scipio  Africanus  the  Roman. 

Thus  he  strengthened  the  courage  of  his  men,  then  in 
the  name  of  St  George  he  ordered  the  advance.  Riding 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  263 

sometimes  in  advance,  sometimes  in  the  rear,  he  gave  courage 
to  all. 

Now  while  Count  Roberto  di  Montevecchio  was  to  assail 
the  camp  on  the  one  side,  Sigismondo,  on  the  other,  led  the 
skirmishers  up  to  the  barricades.  It  was  at  this  moment  that 
the  alarm  was  given ;  everywhere  we  could  see  men  mounting 
in  haste ;  nor  were  our  skirmishers  in  time  to  prevent  the 
enemy  advancing;  but  Sigismondo  charging  into  the  midst 
of  the  fray  set  no  value  on  his  life,  but  fought  with  enormous 
valour,  like  a  lion  robbed  of  his  mate.  And  although  at 
first  we  were  driven  back,  yet  other  squadrons  advanced,  and, 
ever  following  Sigismondo,  drove  the  Pope  and  his  jackals 
behind  their  barricades. 

Then  our  Lord  bringing  up  the  engines  which  we  had 
brought,  not  without  labour,  so  far  on  the  backs  of  mules,  rolled 
back  the  enemy  till  more  than  once  our  men  gained  the 
encampment;  and  there  fell  Paolo  de'  Nardini  of  the  Papal 
army.  All  day  thus  went  the  fight,  ebbing  and  flowing  like 
a  great  sea;  for  their  innumerable  foot  so  sustained  their 
horse  that  we  could  not  shake  them,  and  by  evening  we  had 
all  our  men  engaged,  nor  was  there  left  to  us  a  single  man  by 
way  of  reinforcement. 

At  last  Sigismondo,  holding  his  life  for  nothing,  resolved 
to  conquer  or  to  die,  sent  Roberto,  his  son,  with  his  own 
squadron  and  two  hundred  foot  to  enter  the  camp  and 
destroy  the  tents.  Then,  bidding  the  trumpeters  sound  the 
charge  continually,  he  took  with  him  some  four  hundred 
horse  and  foot,  and  threw  himself  with  incredible  fierce- 
ness on  the  enemy's  flank;  so  terrible  was  the  onslaught 
that  he  burst  through  the  barricades,  and  entered  the 
camp.  Then  followed  a  most  bloody  contest,  in  which  our 
Lord  got  him  two  wounds ;  yet  they  only  served  to  inflame 
him  the  more,  so  that  they  who  had  remained  to  fight  at 
the  barricades,  seeing  his  valour,  with  cheers  and  shouting 


264 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 


and    cries,    entered    the    camp  like   a  wave 


,    overwhelming 
Then  we    heard 


men  and  horses  together  in  their  way. 
the  shouting  of  those  who,  under  Roberto,  had  fallen  upon 
the  tents:  no  more  was  needed,  terror  spread  among  the 
enemy,  and  by  sunset  we  had  put  them  to  flight ;  and  there 
remained  in  our  hands  the  Pope's  banner,  and  all  the  baggage 
and  artillery,  together  with  more  than  fifteen  hundred  horses. 


XXIII 

WHAT  might  have  came  of  such  a  victory  had  Sigismondo 
thought  only  of  his  own  safety  I  know  not ;  perhaps  honour 
and  safety.  But  it  was  not  to  be.  Impetuous,  as  he  ever 
was,  generous  too,  and  as  swift  to  help  a  friend  as  to  leap  on 
a  foe,  not  long  after  he  had  beaten  the  Papal  army  and  sent 
it  flying  back  to  its  master,  before  we  could  make  sure  our 
position,  Piccinino  wanting  help,  begged  our  Lord  to  ad- 
vance so  far  as  Potenza,  that  he  might  unite  his  forces  with 
ours,  and  march  into  the  Kingdom.  Certainly  Sigismondo 
knew  the  risk  he  ran  in  leaving  Romagna.  Yet,  remembering 
the  Prince  of  Taranto,  now  in  sorry  case,  for  the  Angevin 
cause  was  failing,  he  went  with  his  troops  to  the  appointed 
place,  but  found  not  Piccinino.  After  some  days,  return- 
ing in  haste,  knowing  that  he  had  put  his  whole  dominion 
into  jeopardy,  he  strove  to  come  to  terms  with  the  Pope, 
asking  only  that  Mondavio  might  remain  to  him.  In  vain; 
for  the  Pope's  cause  was  prospering,  and  at  that  moment, 
remembering  all  things,  as  he  said,  not  ten  victories  such  as 
that  wre  had  now  should  save  Sigismondo  from  his  vengeance. 
And  Federigo  of  Urbino  waited  for  an  opportunity  to  bring 
us  low.  But  the  Pope  waited  not.  Unable  to  beat  us  in 
the  field,  all  the  armoury  of  his  hate  he  brought  out  against  our 
Lord,  renewing  in  S.  Pietro  the  excommunication,  and  having 
again  charged  him  with  rebellion  against  the  Holy  See,  with 
heresy,  with  rape,  with  violation,  with  adultery,  with  incest, 
with  parricide,  with  sacrilege,  with  felony  and  murder,  he 
bade  him  come  to  Rome  to  be  burned  alive.  Through  all 
lands  and  seas  he  placed  him  under  an  interdict ;  those  who 
265 


266  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

aided  him  were  outlaws,  the  property  of  any  who  might  sell 
them  as  slaves;  those  places  which  owed  service  or  allegiance 
to  him,  and  paid  it,  were  excommunicated  along  with  him. 

Truly  the  Pope  could  not  hope  that  Sigismondo  would 
go  to  Rome  to  answer  this  charge  and  face  his  fury  in  his 
own  city;  therefore,  since  he  could  not  burn  Sigismondo,  his 
hate  demanding  satisfaction,  he  caused  images  to  be  made 
in  the  likeness  of  our  Lord,  and  these  he  burned,  while  out 
of  their  mouths  issued  this  proclamation :  "  Sigismundus  hie 
ego  sum  Malatesta,  films  Pandulfi,  rex  proditorum,  Deo 
atque  hominibus  infestus,  sacri  censura  senatus  igni  dam- 
natus."  Many  read  these  words  and  wondered,  while  the 
whole  city  of  Rome  gazed  in  joy,  as  at  the  burning  of  a 
demon,  for  they  feared  Sigismondo,  who  was  a  captain  such 
as  they  had  not  the  like. 

Then  the  Pope,  the  lover  of  learning,  the  gentle  scholar, 
the  vicegerent  of  Christ,  sitting  at  his  window  watching  the 
bonfire,  felt  such  joy  thereat  that  he  deceived  himself, 
believing  at  last  that  it  was  indeed  Sigismondo  himself  he 
saw  in  the  flames.  • 

Such  was  the  barbarian  who  hid  himself  under  the  sleek 
if  gouty  body  of  Pius  II.,  and  such  was  the  savage  that 
lurked  in  the  soul  of  one  who  passed  as  a  lover  of  antiquity, 
as  the  Shepherd  of  the  flock  of  Christ;  such  was  the  hypocrite, 
the  reformed  rake,  the  gossiping  charlatan,  who  sat  in  the  seat 
of  Nicholas  V.  Truly  he  loved  the  Germans,  and  indeed  he 
found  their  ways,  I  doubt  not,  pleasant  and  full  of  satisfac- 
tion. For  though  for  no  other  cause,  yet  for  this  I  call  him 
savage,  beast,  barbarian,  and  fool,  that,  unable  to  glut  his 
lust  for  blood  and  burnt  flesh,  like  a  savage,  he  caused  an  image 
to  be  made  that  what  he  had  not  in  reality  he  might  enjoy 
in  his  heart.  Enough  of  him;  let  the  world  judge  betwixt 
Sigismondo  and  this  gouty  swine,  who  has  cringed  and  crawled 
for  success,  this  reformed  rake,  this  worn-out  libertine  who 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  267 

enjoyed  women  till  he  was  satiated  and  broken  in  health,  and 
then  crept  into  the  Church,  a  battered  whoremonger,  and,  by 
every  filthy  lane  and  obscure  alley,  arrived  shameless  in  the 
place  where  his  fat  fingers  might  clutch  the  triple  crown.  He 
was  a  Sienese.  Truly  Dante  has  told  us  of  them : 

"  Or  fti  giamraai 
Gente  si  vana  com'£  la  Sanese  ?  " 

But  Pius  had  not  yet  done  with  us.  He  declared  all  the 
citizens  of  our  dominions  free  from  all  obligations  to  their 
Lord  of  fealty  or  homage;  they  were  given  five  months  in 
which  to  withdraw  themselves  from  his  government  and  to 
cease  all  relations  with  him  ;  if  any  refused  to  do  this  he  was 
threatened  with  perpetual  slavery,  and  might  be  sold,  both 
himself  and  his  goods,  by  anyone,  in  any  place. 

Having  thus  raised  up  against  him  not  only  the  whole 
of  Italy,  but  his  own  subjects  also,  the  Pope  gave  to 
Federigo  of  Urbino  the  general  command  of  the  Ecclesi- 
astical troops  for  war  against  Sigismondo.  And  truly,  when 
spring  came  we  saw  the  storm  that  was  about  to  burst  upon 
us,  but  had  no  place  of  shelter,  nor  any  means  of  protecting 
ourselves ;  for  our  treasury  was  empty,  and  the  Pope  at  least 
had  succeeded  in  frightening  any  soldier  from  joining  us, 
since  there  seemed  but  little  to  gain  and  much  to  lose.  It  is 
true  that  Fortebraccio  came  to  help  us,  leaving  the  Venetian 
service,  but  he  was  related  to  our  Lord,  while  the  Prince  of 
Taranto,  with  much  kindness,  granted  us  1600  ducats,1  and 
Duke  Borso  lent  us  more,  yet  truly  we  could  do  but  little ; 
yet  for  all  that  we  took  Sinigaglia,  almost  with  the  good  will 
of  the  enemy  I  have  sometimes  thought.  For  it  was  whis- 
pered that  Sigismondo  was  about  to  depart  for  Abruzzo  to 
aid  his  friends,  who  were  the  Pope's  enemies,  and  by  letting 

1  It  seems  that  the  money  was  lent  really  to  gather  an  army  to  go  to  the 
assistance  of  the  Prince,  for  the  Angevins  cause  was  in  a  bacHvay. 


268  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

Sinigaglia  fall  into  his  hands  they  kept  him  busy  in  the 
north.  Yet  scarcely  was  Sinigaglia  ours  when  Federigo 
appeared  with  all  his  army.  Then  Sigismondo,  almost  at  his 
wits'  end,  turned  to  Federigo,  and  proposed  to  him  peace  and 
an  alliance ;  for  he  told  Urbino  that  the  Pope  would  not  be 
content  with  crushing  the  Malatesti,  but  would  soon  turn  on 
the  other  vicars  also,  claiming  all  Umbria,  Romagna,  and  the 
March  for  himself.  But  Federigo,  as  though  he  heard  not, 
continued  fighting.  At  last  Sigismondo,  taking  counsel  with 
his  brother  Novello,  who,  though  sick  and  broken  in  health, 
remained  with  him,  determined  that  it  would  be  better  to 
garrison  Sinigaglia,  which  then  could  resist  for  a  long  time, 
and  to  lead  the  greater  part  of  his  army  to  Fano,  that  city 
by  the  sea,  greatly  fortified,  and  provided  with  every  needful 
thing,  according  to  the  advice  of  the  old  Marchese  Nicolo 
d'Este.  This  decision  was  indeed  much  applauded  by  all, 
the  only  difficulty  being  that  of  leaving  Sinigaglia.  This 
Sigismondo  determined  to  do  by  night  secretly.  Yet  this  he 
could  not  do,  for  one  of  our  scouts  turned  traitor,  and  told  all 
the  plan  to  Federigo,  who,  as  soon  as  we  set  out,  hung  closely 
on  our  flanks.  Yet  at  first  we  avoided  a  close  fight,  till  we 
had  crossed  the  river,  when  seeing  that  Federigo  still  pursued 
us,  Sigismondo,  changing  his  order  of  battle,  altogether  sur- 
rounded the  enemy  so  that  they  must  have  surrendered  had 
not  Giovanni  di  Mantova  perverted  the  written  orders  of  our 
Lord,  so  that  the  fight  was  renewed  in  the  plain,  and  though 
Sigismondo  used  all  his  skill,  having  lost  the  advantage  through 
the  treachery  and  stupidity  of  another  we  outnumbered, 
were  utterly  routed  and  scattered — Roberto,  for  instance,  after 
fighting  valiantly,  and  taking  not  a  few  of  the  enemy,  shut 
himself  up  in  Mondolfo,  while  Sigismondo,  with  the  remnant 
of  his  broken  army,  gained  Fano  at  last.  There  again  I  did 
my  utmost  to  treat  with  Federigo,  but  he  would  scarce  re- 
ceive me  much  less  listen  to  my  words.  All  negotiations  with 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  269 

the  Pope  were  in  vain ;  of  a  truth,  as  was  proved  later,  he 
desired  our  lordship  for  his  own  nephew.  Divining  this, 
Sigismondo  called  to  him  Roberto,  his  son,  and  reminding  him 
that  he  had  a  lady  of  Fano  for  his  mother,  confided  the 
government  and  safety  of  the  city  to  him,  being  determined 
himself  to  set  out  by  sea  to  seek  aid  from  those  powers  he 
had  so  often  served.  Vain  and  Sienese  though  the  Pope  was, 
he  would  scarcely  dare  to  offend  a  state  such  as  Venice,  for 
instance,  who  if  properly  approached  would,  as  we  thought, 
be  very  ready  to  defend  us.  Nevertheless,  not  wishing  to 
escape  the  jaws  of  the  fox  only  to  fall  into  the  power  of  the 
lion,  Sigismondo  first  went  into  the  Kingdom  to  see  whether  or 
not  his  friends  there  were  able  to  help  him.  He  arrived,  how- 
ever (such  was  our  fortune),  in  time  to  weep  with  them  over 
their  common  lot ;  for  three  days  after  his  own  defeat  Prince 
Jean  and  Piccinino  had  been  routed  by  the  King  Ferdinando, 
and  Alessandro  Sforza. 

Nor  were  we  in  Fano  any  the  better  for  his  departure,  but 
rather  worse,  for  not  only  did  the  people  grumble,  fearing 
the  evil  the  Pope  might  launch  against  them,  but  Federigo, 
in  the  absence  of  Sigismondo,  had  fallen  upon  the  whole 
Contado  of  Rimini  and  of  Fano,  and  had  indeed  brought  up 
all  his  troops  to  besiege  these  cities.  Among  other  places 
that  fell  was  Montefiore,  one  of  the  stoutest  in  the  dominion, 
yet  it  was  given  up  by  the  keepers  rather  than  conquered ; 
and  this  place  was  defended  by  Giovanni,  son  of  Sigismondo, 
under  the  direction  of  Soardino  da  Barignano.  Now  Federigo, 
whether  from  chivalry  or  from  shrewdness  I  know  not,  treated 
Giovanni  with  all  courtesy,  setting  him  free  at  last,  and  giving 
him  six  mules  laden  with  his  baggage,  and  horses  too  he 
gave  him,  and  other  things  convenient  to  him,  bringing  him 
himself  into  a  place  of  safety.  But  when  winter  fell  there 
remained  to  us  in  all  the  dominion  but  these  five  cities,  Cervia, 
Cesena,  F'ano,  Sinigaglia  and  Rimini,  and  of  these  there  was 


270  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

not  one  which  had  escaped  battering.  Then  Federigo  in 
quarters  at  Verrucchio  took  thought  how  he  might  possess 
himself  of  Rimini  and  Fano,  and  all  that  winter  he  besieged 
them  closely.  Yet  in  Fano  we  still  kept  up  our  hearts,  and 
the  soldiers,  as  though  in  scorn  of  our  misfortunes,  even  made 
a  triumph  in  which  an  image  of  the  Pope  adorned  with  pea- 
cock's feathers  was  dragged  through  the  streets  in  a  dis- 
graceful manner. 

But  spring  was  coming,  and  with  it  our  almost  certain 
ruin.  Was  it  possible  to  prevent  it?  How  often  we  de- 
bated that  question.  At  last  leaving  Roberto  and  Giovanni 
to  defend  Fano,  while  Madonna  Isotta  with  her  son 
Salustio  held  Rimini,  Sigismondo  set  out  again  begging  for 
help.  He  went  first  to  Venice,  and  indeed  at  the  end  of  his 
journeys  the  Venetians  alone  promised  him  assistance,  for 
they  cared  not  to  see  the  Pope  so  strong  near  their  dominion, 
and  for  this  reason  had,  much  to  the  Pope's  anger,  bought 
Cervia  from  us  in  the  previous  autumn.  They  promised  us 
help,  but  in  vain ;  yet  Rimini  was  saved  from  the  hands  of  the 
Piccolomini  by  reason  of  the  plague  that  fell  upon  us  in  the 
spring;  and  for  this  cause  Federigo  went  with  his  army  to  join 
the  troops  before  Fano,  taking  some  castles  on  his  way, 
among  them  Macerata  and  Certaldo,  which  still  held  for 
Sigismondo  in  Montefeltro,  together  with  others  in  the 
contado  of  Fano,  which  in  the  winter  had  returned  to  the 
allegiance  of  our  Lord. 

Now,  as  I  have  said,  Sigismondo,  urged  thereto  both  by  Ma- 
donna Isotta  and  by  Madonna  Vanetta,  had  given  Fano  into  the 
care  of  Roberto,  thinking  too  that,  since  he  was  born  there,  his 
son  would  better  engage  the  loyalty  of  the  citizens  than  him- 
self. It  was  June  when  Federigo  came  into  the  field  against  the 
city,  encamping  near  the  Badia  of  S.  Patrignano.  The  great 
fight  had  begun.  At  first,  it  is  true,  Roberto  proved  more 
than  a  match  for  him,  for  he  not  only  prevented  him  from 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  271 

placing  his  batteries  against  the  city,  but  also  continually  sent 
out  skirmishers  to  worry  the  Papal  camp,  himself  gaining 
much  advantage,  since  by  sea  both  reinforcements  and  supplies 
reached  him  from  Rimini.  The  Pope,  however,  thinking  to 
prevent  this,  armed  a  ship  in  Ancona,  and  sent  it  towards 
Fano.  And,  as  it  happened,  there  were  then  some  barges 
just  come  into  port  from  Rimini;  these  the  Pope's  ship  easily 
took,  for  they  were  heavy  with  cargo,  and  slow.  At  that 
moment,  as  it  happened,  two  Venetian  galleys  hove  into  sight, 
and  made  straight  for  our  barges,  so  that  the  Pope's  ship 
withdrew.  Then  the  Venetians  brought  our  boats  into  port, 
and  urged  Roberto  to  make  every  defence  in  his  power, 
assuring  him  that  the  Republick  would  not  stand  idle  while 
its  friends  were  bullied  by  the  Church. 

For  many  days  these  Venetian  ships  hung  about  the  port, 
while  the  Pope's  galley  waited  too,  not  daring  to  approach. 
Then  the  Pope  threatened  to  complain  to  the  Senate,  and 
indeed  did  so;  but  the  Venetians  answered  that  they  were 
guardians  of  those  seas,  and  had  no  other  desire  than  that 
traders  should  be  free  from  the  attacks  of  corsairs. 

In  the  meantime  Roberto  had  struck  one  good  blow  for 
freedom,  for  gathering  the  best  of  his  men  and  the  most 
experienced,  he  sallied  out  of  the  city,  and  charging  straight 
for  the  batteries  tried  to  capture  them,  or  at  least  to  render 
them  useless.  And  though  he  was  not  altogether  successful 
he  caused  such  fear  and  confusion  in  the  Papal  army  that  a 
little  later,  seeing  twenty-five  barges  full  of  provisions  and 
supplies  enter  the  port,  all  save  Federigo,  whose  hate  was 
unappeased,  wished  to  abandon  the  siege  as  useless. 

Federigo,  however,  had  sworn  to  take  the  city,  and  though 
winter  was  coming  on,  and  he  had  gained  nothing,  he  was 
neither  disheartened  nor  afraid.  On  the  other  hand,  while 
our  soldiers  were  eager  to  continue  the  defence,  the  principal 
citizens,  remembering  the  Pope's  briefs,  were  anxious  above  all 


272  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

to  save  themselves,  so  that  when,  after  all  had  been  done 
that  could  be  done,  Federigo  still  continued  the  bombard- 
ment, and  managed  to  destroy  a  great  tower,  a  general 
terror  spread  through  the  city,  and  some  of  the  principal 
citizens,  fearing  a  worse  thing,  presented  themselves  to 
Roberto,  and  urged  him  to  surrender,  on  honourable  terms. 
Seeing  their  plight,  and  that  no  promise  of  reinforcements 
could  hearten  them,  he  gave  them  leave  to  do  what  they 
would,  shutting  himself  with  his  mother  and  his  sisters  into 
the  citadel  near  the  port,  trusting  that  he  might  get  help 
from  sea. 

Then  the  gates  were  opened,  and  on  1 5th  September  the 
Papal  troops  entered  Fano  under  the  standard  of  the  Church. 

Now  the  citizens  loved  Roberto  for  he  was  a  brave  man, 
and  though  they  had  given  up  the  city  they  had  won  his 
freedom  with  their  own  from  the  Legate.  Therefore  when 
at  last  overcome  by  the  tears  of  the  women,  Roberto  delivered 
the  citadel  also  to  Federigo  he  found  himself  safe ;  moreover, 
his  splendid  defence  of  four  months  had  filled  all  mouths  with 
his  glory  so  that  he  was  greeted  rather  as  a  conqueror  than 
as  a  defeated  general.  And  Federigo  honourably  received 
him,  and  praised  him  before  all  his  Condottieri ;  then,  accom- 
panying him  aboard  ship,  he  sent  him  to  Rimini  to  his  father. 
And  it  was  said  that  he  promised,  when  that  war  should  be 
ended,  he  would  not  fail  to  give  Roberto  every  proof  of  the 
respect  he  had  won  from  him. 


XXIV 

OF  all  the  territory  of  the  Malatesti  there  remained  to  them 
only  Rimini  and  Cesena.  And  indeed  such  was  our  con- 
dition that,  at  all  costs,  we  must  make  peace.  Truly  for  a 
long  time,  ever  since  the  fall  of  Sinigaglia,  and  his  defeat  on 
the  road  to  Fano,  our  Lord,  by  the  mouth  of  Messer 
Giammarino  de  Giammarini  of  Cesena  and  others,  had  offered 
to  make  his  submission  to  the  Pope,  and  not  only  the 
Venetians,  but  the  Duke  of  Milan  and  Cosimo  de'  Medici, 
had  also  been  asked  to  intervene  on  our  behalf;  in  vain,  for 
the  Pope  was  more  anxious  to  rob  us  of  our  dominion  than 
to  accept  our  submission  or  to  be  friends. 

Nevertheless,  two  days  after  the  fall  of  Fano,  Messer 
Giammarino,  with  new  powers,  went  to  throw  himself  at 
the  Pope's  feet,  asking,  in  Sigismondo's  name,  for  pardon 
for  every  crime  against  the  Holy  See,  beseeching  peace 
on  any  terms  that  pleased  His  Holiness,  for  our  power  was 
broken.  Nor  were  we  without  powerful  advocates,  for 
Venice,  no  longer  indifferent  as  to  our  fate,  had  no  wish 
to  see  Rimini  and  Cesena  go  the  way  of  Fano,  Sinigaglia, 
and  Gradara;  nor  was  Duke  Francesco  willing  to  see  the 
Romagna  pass  altogether  into  the  power  of  the  Pope, 
since  Alessandro  Sforza  held  Pesaro,  and,  moreover,  the 
envoys  of  the  King  of  France  were  at  that  time  in  Rome 
arranging  peace  between  Ferdinando  and  the  Angevins,  and 
hoping  thus  in  some  way  to  save  their  own  honour,  they 
insisted  upon  including  Sigismondo  in  the  pacification,  and 
the  envoys  of  Florence  supported  them  in  this.  Nevertheless, 
the  Pope  was  hard  to  move,  for  he  looked  upon  our  territory 
s  273 


274  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

as  a  heritage  for  his  nephews,  or  if  not  for  his  nephews,  as  so 
much  saved  from  Venice  for  the  Church.  Wishing  there- 
fore to  put  off  the  decision  of  this  affair,  and  anxious  to  see 
Christendom,  or  at  any  rate  Italy,  united  against  the  Turk, 
when  the  Venetian  envoys  pressed  him  about  Sigismondo 
he  turned  upon  them,  and  urged  that  they  should  cease  to 
make  war  upon  Trieste,  and  join  at  once  the  other  Christian 
nations  in  war  against  the  enemy  of  God.  But  they  would 
not  have  it  so,  answering  that  they  were  ready  to  do  as  he 
wished,  but  they  waited  his  example ;  for  having,  robbed  the 
Malatesti  of  their  lands,  he  still  continued  the  war,  refusing  to 
them  not  only  their  dominion,  but  even  their  peace.  The  Pope, 
thus  forced  into  a  corner,  and  angered  that  the  whole  of  Christ- 
endom should  see  his  greed,  sent  Cardinal  Bessarion  to  Venice 
to  urge  the  Senate  to  agree  to  a  general  action  against  the 
Turk ;  the  Venetians,  on  their  part,  sent  Bernando  Guistiniano 
to  the  Pope,  urging  him  to  cease  to  bully  the  Malatesti ;  and 
all  the  envoys,  as  I  have  said,  making  common  cause  with  him, 
Pius  II.  was  compelled,  against  his  will,  to  offer  us  terms. 
Yet  first,  to  satisfy  his  pride,  he  insisted  upon  our  submission. 
Therefore,  on  4th  October,  Signor  Novello  went  to  the  Legate 
in  Romagna,  Cardinal  di  Tieno,  and  humbly  begged  pardon 
for  all  the  sins  of  the  family.  Nor  even  yet  was  the  Pope 
satisfied,  for  not  only  did  Messer  Sagramori,  one  of  our  Lord's 
secretaries,  abjure  and  renounce  on  his  behalf,  the  crimes  of 
heresy  and  such  named  in  the  charge  against  him,  but  Messer 
Giovanni  Andigio,  another  secretary,  was  compelled  to  go  to 
S.  Pietro,  where  he  solemnly  repeated  this  abjuration  before 
the  Archbishop  of  Benevento. 

Then  and  not  till  then  did  we  have  peace,  the  terms  of 
which  were  certainly  more  humiliating  than  those  pilgrimages 
forced  upon  us  by  the  Pope. 

"Or  f\n  giammai 
Gente  si  vana  com'  e  la  Sanese." 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  275 

For  Sigismondo  was  compelled  to  place  in  the  hands  of 
the  Pope  all  the  lands  formerly  in  his  dominion.  On  the  other 
hand,  it  was  promised  that  Rimini  itself,  with  the  estates  of 
Bargellato  Riminese  and  the  Castle  of  Cerasolo,  should  re- 
main to  him  as  vicar,  and  should  descend  to  his  legitimate  or 
bastard  sons  for  the  annual  tribute  of  one  thousand  gold 
florins.  Again,  Novello  was  also  to  resign  all  his  lordship 
into  the  Pope's  hands,  but  was  allowed  to  choose  any  one 
castle,  and  to  be  invested  with  the  lordship  of  it,  which  was 
to  descend  to  his  heirs.  But  the  city  of  Cesena,  which  he 
retained,  would,  if  he  died  without  legitimate  male  issue  (and 
his  health  was  so  bad  that  this  seemed  immediately  likely), 
relapse  to  the  Holy  See.1  This  last  clause  in  the  treaty  did 
not  altogether  please  the  Venetians,  who,  having  already 
acquired  Cervia,  feared  that  when  the  Pope  had  possessed 
himself  of  Cesena  he  would  long  for  that  city  also.2  The 
Pope,  however,  was  not  yet  prepared  to  quarrel  with  Venice, 
upon  whom  depended  the  success  of  his  expedition  against 

1  The    distribution   of  Sigismondo's    dominion    was    as    follows : — The 
vicariate  of   S.    Agata,  with  all   its    castles,   Penna  Billi,  Maiolo,   S.  Leo 
Macerata,  Sasso,  Pietrarubbta,  Tavoleto,  the  Auditorio,  Valle  Avellana,  Pian 
di  Castello,  Ruptetrosa  Ripa  Massana,  with  all  castles  in  Montefeltro,  was 
granted  to  Federigo  of  Urbino  for  three  legitimate  generations,  for  annual 
tribute  to  the  Holy  See  of  1340  gold    florins.      Talamello  was  given   to 
Gian   Francesco  di  Bagno,  who  had   conquered  it.     To  Count  Alcssandro 
Sforza  of  Pesnro  was  granted  the  castle  of  Gradara  and  its  territory.      King 
Ferdinando  had  given  fifty  thousand  gold  florins,  which  he  was  to  have  had 
from  Sigismondo,  to  Antonio  Piccolomini,  his  son-in-law,  the  Pope's  nephew, 
who  was  invested  with  the  vicariate  of  Sinigaglia,  with  its  contado,  Mondavio, 
S.  Costanza,  Montecchio,  Mondolfo,  Monte  Marciano,  and  so  forth.     If  he 
died  without  legitimate  issue,  Giacomo  and  Andrea  Piccolomini  and  their 
sons  and  grandsons  were  to*  succeed  him.     The  Republic  of  S.  Marino  too 
gained  certain  small    places  and    privileges.      Other   soldiers   of  the    Pope 
gained    other    small   castles  and  privileges.      See   Battaglini,  op.  cit.  ii.  pp. 
531-532. 

2  There  was  some  arrangement  between  the  Venetians  and  the  Duke  of 
Modena,  whereby  the   Republic  supplied  the  Duke  with  salt  from  Cervia. 
It  will  be   remembered  that  once  before,  in    the   time  of   Eugenius    IV., 
Sigismondo  had  fortified  Cervia  to  protect  this  industry. 


276  SIGISMONDO  MALATESTA 

the  Turks.  Thinking  thus  to  assure  them  of  his  good 
faith  in  this  peace,  and  in  the  subtle  and  sly  hope  of  getting 
Sigismondo  out  of  Romagna,  he  suggested  to  them  that  our 
Lord  should  be  appointed  Captain-General  of  their  troops  in 
this  Crusade. 

Ah !  how  can  I  ever  describe  the  misery  of  that  winter  ? 
Long  and  long  ago  all  the  poets,  painters,  sculptors,  architects, 
clowns,  buffoons,  astrologers,  and  such  had  departed;  yet 
there  remained  with  us  Messer  Basinio  Basini,  busy  with  the 
fame  of  Sigismondo;  Messer  Valturio,  and  Messer  Matteo 
da  Pasti  too,  a  little  company,  but  a  loyal,  who  loved 
Sigismondo. 

What  to  do?  for  truly  we  were  beggared.  Yet  among 
all  those  who  wept  and  saw  no  help,  two  never  lost  either 
courage  or  hope—  I  mean  Sigismondo  himself  and  Madonna 
Isotta.  And  indeed  her  courage  was  all  our  hope.  Beautiful 
and  full  of  silence,  her  steadfast  eyes  seemed  to  hold  in  their 
strange  untroubled  depths  the  mysterious  promise  of  the 
future.  In  her  hands  she  held  the  soul  of  our  Lord.  Would 
she  let  it  fall  ?  Not  she.  "  Agree  with  the  Venetians,"  said 
she,  "  they  are  our  friends.  When  you  return  full  of  your 
victories,  your  glory  a  star  in  Christendom,  your  fame  like 
a  trumpet  resounding  on  the  hills,  will  the  Pope  dare  to  say 
you  nay  ?  I  know  the  Sienese ;  they  can  do  everything  in  a 
moment,  but  they  cannot  persist.  Will  the  nephews  of 
Piccolomini  dare  to  stand  against  the  saviour  of  Europe  ?  Will 
the  Pope  dare  to  oppose  him  who  has  saved  the  triple  crown  ? 
Will  the  Church  deny  anything  to  him  who  has  avenged  God 
upon  his  enemies  ?  Go  to,  gather  in  your  victories.  Pius 
will  be  rotten  in  Siena  when  your  fame  is  green.  Be  of  good 
heart,  you  have  lost  to-day  what  you  shall  win  back  a 
hundredfold  to-morrow.  Crowned  with  the  eternal  glory  of 
the  liberation  of  Hellas  you  will  return.  Be  sure,  in  life  the 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 


277 


victory  is  ever  with  him  who  can  persist."  Truly  her  courage 
lifted  up  the  heart.  It  was  marvellous,  a  thing  to  wonder  at, 
more  extraordinary  than  her  strange  beauty.  For  her  at 
least  if  our  Lord  fell  there  was  no  future,  nor  for  her  son 
Salustio  neither.  Roberto,  already  friends  with  Federigo, 
certainly  thought  to  claim  Rimini,  and,  Sigismondo  away, 
what  hope  was  left  to  her  of  heritage  for  her  son  ? 

Yet  for  all  her  courage,  Sigismondo  remained  like  a  stricken 
man,  already  defeated  in  his  heart.  He  roused  himself  at 
last  to  send  Anastagi  and  Alberto  Petrucci  of  Mondavio  as 
his  commissioners  to  Venice  to  arrange  for  the  engagement 
of  Roberto  in  the  service  of  the  Republic ;  and  then  in  March, 
full  of  new  hope,  of  the  promises  of  Madonna  Isotta  he  went 
himself  thither,  taking  me  with  him,  for  I  longed  to  see  once 
more  before  I  died  the  holy  land  of  Hellas. 

How  may  I  describe  the  glory  and  magnificence  that 
awaited  him,  when  before  the  whole  city,  in  the  Piazza  di  S. 
Marco,  after  the  solemn  ceremony  of  consecration  in  the 
Cathedral,  the  standard  of  the  Republic  and  the  baton  of 
command  were  given  him,  and  he  was  presented  to  the  city. 
All  Italy  applauded  the  man  whom  all  Italy  had  conspired  to 
subdue,  but  was  now  compelled  to  place  at  the  head  of  the 
army  to  overcome  the  infidel.  Truly  on  that  Spring  morning, 
the  whole  city  full  of  the  sea-wind,  seemed  like  an  immense 
garland  flung  at  the  feet  of  the  hero. 

Who  shall  find  out  the  hearts  of  men  ?  It  was  not  after 
all  in  security  and  honour  that  Sigismondo  was  to  set  out  on 
that  high  emprise,  but  in  anxiety  and  grief,  owing  to  the 
cunning  wickedness  of  Pius  II.  For  in  April,  just  before 
we  sailed,  news  reached  us  that  the  Pope  was  plotting,  with 
certain  enemies  of  ours,  Raniero  de'  Maschi  and  Ramberto 
Fulcerio,  to  seize  the  city  as  soon  as  we  were  safely  away. 
Now  Madonna  Isotta,  in  the  wisdom  of  Sigismondo,  had 
been  given  all  power  in  Rimini,  yet  owing  to  our  poverty,  no 


278  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

less  than  to  the  treaty  which  stripped  us  of  soldiers,  there 
were  but  few  men  left  to  guard  her,  for  indeed  we  thought 
we  had  the  guarantee  of  the  Church  that  Rimini  should  be 
safe. 

When  this  new  plot  came  to  Sigismondo's  ears,  without 
waiting  a  moment,  he  appealed  to  the  Republic  to  guard 
Rimini  in  his  absence.  Pleased  with  his  confidence,  the 
Senate  at  once  sent  two  hundred  foot,  at  their  own  expense, 
to  hold  the  city,  and  bade  us  be  at  peace,  telling  us  that,  if 
the  Pope  sought  to  harm  us,  he  must  not  only  fight  Venice, 
but  give  up  all  his  dreams  of  a  crusade,  thus  shaming  him- 
self in  the  eyes  of  the  world. 

No  long  time  after,  almost  at  peace  in  our  hearts,  we  set 
out.  I  shall  not  weary  you  with  much  news  of  that  un- 
fortunate campaign ;  for  unfortunate  it  was,  disaster  following 
on  disaster,  and  through  no  fault  of  Sigismondo's,  who  bore 
himself,  as  ever,  valiantly. 

When  we  first  came  into  Morea  we  found  the  army, 
which  we  had  hoped  would  be  very  strong,  to  number  but 
seven  thousand  men,  so  that,  even  as  hitherto,  it  had  not 
been  able  to  prevent  the  Turks  from  invading  that  part  of 
the  Peloponnesus  held  by  the  Republic,  so  now  it  would  be 
necessary  rather  to  defend  than  to  attack,  and  to  wait  for 
those  crusaders  the  Pope  had  assembled  at  Ancona,  and  who, 
before  our  departure,  had  overrun  Venice,  without  money 
and  without  arms,  awaiting  free  passage,  much  to  the  amuse- 
ment of  the  Venetians.  Then  we  heard  that  the  Pope  him- 
self was  coming,  hoping,  as  Sigismondo  said,  for  spoil,  or  to 
convert  Mahomet  to  Christianity  by  his  eloquence,  as  he  had 
already  tried  to  do  by  his  letters.  Then  news  came  that  the 
Doge  had  himself  sailed,  with  six  galleys,  for  Ancona,  to  join 
the  Pope.  After  that,  for  a  long  time,  there  was  silence. 
At  last,  one  autumn  day,  we  heard  strange  news  indeed: 
that  the  Pope  was  dead  in  Ancona,  and  that  the  Crusade  was 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  279 

suspended  until  another  Pope  should  sanction  it.  Then  one 
day  letters  came  to  us  from  Rimini,  by  which  we  learned  that 
Pius  had  made  use  of  the  money  collected  throughout 
Europe  for  the  Crusade  to  defeat  us  in  Romagna,  that  the 
new  Pope,  Paul  II.,  Cardinal  Barbo,  was  unable,  or  at  any 
rate  unwilling,  to  continue  the  campaign.  This  last  news 
found  us  in  a  strange  and  desolate  place.  For  we,  at  least, 
had  lost  no  time,  but,  when  Sigismondo  had  taken  over  the 
command,  had,  little  by  little,  retaken  the  whole  of  the 
Marina,  and  at  last  had  decided  to  besiege  Mistra,  where,  as 
we  thought,  the  Divine  philosopher,  Gemisthus  Pletho,  was 
held  in  captivity.  And  indeed  during  all  the  campaign  we 
thought  and  spoke  of  little  else  but  him.  In  that  strange 
and  windy  place  among  the  mountains  .  .  . 

C Here  the  MS.  is  defective.} 

At  last,  after  infinite  pains  and  privations,  we  took  the 
city,  nor  was  Sigismondo  the  last  to  enter  it ;  yet  we  found 
not  Gemisthus,  but  since  the  castle  held  out  still  against  us 
we  feared  for  his  very  life  among  such  barbarians,  and  night 
and  day  we  searched  where  to  find  him.  Then  one  day  as  I 
walked  through  the  fields  full  of  unreaped  and  trampled  corn 
without  the  city,  seeking  both  among  the  dead,  who  lay  by  the 
wayside,  and  among  the  wounded  and  fugitives,  for  him  who 
held  in  his  heart  the  very  secret  of  the  world,  I  found  an  old  man 
who,  having  lost  his  little  son,  and  sought  him  in  vain  for 
many  days,  was  running  aimlessly  among  the  trodden  corn 
calling  his  name.  Him  I  seized  gently  by  the  arm  thinking 
to  console  him,  for  I  could  not  pass  him  by.  Almost  naked 
as  he  was,  he  was  a  Greek  of  good  birth.  Speaking  then  of 
many  things  to  take  his  thoughts  from  his  child,  whom 
certainly  he  would  never  see  again,  I  spoke  of  Gemisthus  and 
of  our  search,  that  also  was  in  vain. 


280  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

"  You  speak  of  the  Philosopher,"  said  he. 

06 Who  else?"  said  I.  "Whom  else  should  I  seek 
in  this  place — I,  an  old  man,  and  without  family  and 
friends?" 

"  He  is  dead,"  said  the  Greek.  "  He  died  some  years 
since.  Yonder  is  his  grave."  And  he  led  me  to  the 
place. 

That  night,  secretly  for  fear  of  the  people,  Sigismondo 
and  myself,  with  some  few  trusted  ones,  came  to  the  rude 
tomb,  already  spoiled  by  war,  and  gently  gathered  his  ashes 
into  a  gold  cup.  With  this  hidden  under  the  cloak  of  our 
Lord  we  returned  to  the  camp. 

Not  a  moment  too  soon  had  we  found  Gemisthus,  for 
on  that  night  came  news  of  the  approach  of  the  Infidels 
with  an  army  of  some  25,000  men.  Already  reinforcements 
had  been  introduced  into  the  citadel,  and  our  army  was 
restive  and  mutinous  by  reason  of  the  hardships  and  terrors 
of  the  campaign,  so  that  many  captains  had  already  abandoned 
their  posts.  When  these  were  brought  in  before  him, 
Sigismondo  wished  to  punish  them,  but  Dandolo  Provveditore 
of  the  Republic  would  not  consent,  and  thus  such  dissensions 
arose  that  no  one  was  in  agreement  with  another  save  that 
the  siege  should  be  abandoned.  Then,  ravaging  the  country 
as  he  went,  our  Lord  led  us  into  winter  quarters  at  Napoli  in 
There  the  pestilence  fell  upon  us,  so  that  at  last 
a  shattered  host  we  passed  into  Laconia ;  in  vain  as  it  proved, 
for  we  lost  half  our  men,  so  that  at  last,  coming  to  Mantinea, 
we  were  but  two  thousand  eight  hundred  strong. 

Nor  were  our  troubles  finished  yet.  For  there  in  that 
inhospitable  and  stony  place  Sigismondo  fell  so  ill  that  for  two 
days  we  took  him  for  dead.  How  shall  I  ever  forget  the 
horror  of  those  weeks  when  I  watched  beside  him,  helpless  and 
raving,  in  the  midst  of  a  mutinous  army,  distracted  not  only  by 
the  enemy  without,  but  by  secret  foes  within  our  camp.  Only 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  281 

the  precious  dust  of  Gemisthus  never  left  his  pillow,  and 
indeed  I  think  it  was  the  thought  he  had  conceived  of  placing 
this  in  the  Temple  at  Rimini  that  at  last  revived  him  so  that 
he  was  cured  of  his  sickness.  Yet  all  this  time  our  host  was 
dwindling  from  pestilence ;  and  then  to  crown  all  our  troubles 
news  came  that  Roberto,  urged  thereto  by  the  Pope  as  we 
thought,  and  as  was  generally  asserted,  had  seized  Rimini. 
You  may  imagine  Sigismondo's  rage  and  anxiety  and  fear. 
"  What  of  Isotta  ? "  Ah !  how  often  I  heard  that  question 
when  the  only  answer  I  could  give  to  a  man  but  half  returned 
from  death  was :  "  Who  knows  ?"  Then  at  last  came  letters 
from  Isotta  herself,  brought  from  Venice  at  the  risk  of  death. 
It  seemed  that  Roberto  had  indeed  appeared  in  Rimini,  and 
in  mourning  too,  but  when  he  had  tried  to  seize  the  city l  the 
garrison  of  the  Republic  had  prevented  it.  Yet  the  news 
was  not  all  good,  for  we  learned  that  Novello  was  sick  unto 
death  and  had  shut  himself  up  in  the  citadel  to  die,  having 
no  means  of  defence,  for  already  Federigo  was  in  arms  as  the 
Pope's  general,  ready  to  seize  Cesena.  Another  letter  told 
of  the  death  of  Novello,  and  then  how  Roberto,  disappointed 
in  Rimini,  had  held  the  citadel  and  bargained  it  with  the  Pope 
and  Federigo,  whose  favour  he  had,  for  Meldola  and  other 
places  formerly  in  the  power  of  Sigismondo.  Then  our  Lord, 
seeing  his  army  already  defeated  by  disease  and  like  to  be 
destroyed  altogether,  sent  to  Venice  demanding  either  rein- 
forcements or  permission  to  return  home,  for  he  feared 
Venice  amid  these  changes  might  see  fit  to  seize  Rimini  to 
save  it  from  the  Pope,  and  he  feared  the  Pope  for  a  similar 
reason,  and  above  all  he  feared  what  his  own  son  might 
do,  for  all  things  seemed  to  him  possible  while  he  was  so  far 
away.  And  in  his  heart  he  wondered  what  he  might  do 
there  in  Romagna  now  that  Pius  was  dead.  The  Republic 
was  loth  to  let  him  go,  but  at  last  consented  if  he  would 

^attaglini,  of.  ctt.  ii.  p.  538,  says  by  the  suggestion  of  the  Pope. 


282  SIGISMONDO    MALATESTA 

leave  his  own  troops  behind  him.  And  he  agreed ;  so  we  set 
sail  in  a  swift  galley,  he  and  I  alone,  and  coming  to  Venice, 
he  answered  the  charges  that  he  found  the  Provveditore  had 
continually  made  against  him.  Then,  having  received  every 
mark  of  honour  from  the  Republic,  he  returned  to  Rimini 
on  1 1  th  April  1 466,  and  I  with  him. 


XXV 

IT  was  indeed  to  a  new  Italy  we  returned,  from  that  burning 
and  thirsty  land  of  Hellas,  that,  overwhelmed  by  the  bar- 
barians, lies  like  a  terrible  desert  under  the  WH^andjtbe--~- 
sun.  For  not  Pius  alone  had  departed,  "tfTough  indeed  his 
death  touched  us  the  most  nearly,  but  Cosimo  de'  Medici— 
also,  that  wise  and  blunt  old  man,  who,  holding  Florence 
surely  in  his  hands,  had  helped  to  set  Francesco  Sforza  on 
the  throne  of  Milan.  Then  no  long  time  after  our  return, 
Sforza  too,  that  incorrigible  brigand  who  had  carved  himself 
a  dominion  with  his  sword,  died  too,  leaving  his  dukedom  to 
his  sons.  Seeing  then  the  general  instability  of  affairs,  and 
the  changes  that  must  follow  the  death  of  these  so  famous 
men,  among  the  first  things  that  Sigismondo  did  on  his  re- 
turn to  Rimini  was  to  consider  the  disposal  of  his  lordship,  of 
what  remained  to  him  from  the  spoliation  of  Pius.  Nor  was 
Isotta  less  anxious  than,  under  her  influence,  he  himself  be- 
came to  make  Salustio  his  heir.  For  Roberto,  having  lost 
Fano,  though  honourably,  having  lost  Cesena,  though  by  ill 
fortune,  had  yet  managed  to  gather  to  himself  a  certain 
dominion,  with  the  help  of  our  enemies,  from  the  debris  of 
his  father's  lordship.  Therefore,  seeing  him  established, 
and  remembering  his  appearance  in  Rimini  on  the  receipt  of 
news  of  his  death,  Sigismondo  in  April  made  a  testament,  in 
which  he  declared  Madonna  Isotta  and  her  sons  to  be  his 
heirs,  without  naming  Roberto  at  all. 

Yet  even  before  this  necessary  business,  with  every  kind 
of  solemnity,  and  with  music,  we  laid  the  precious  dust  of 
Gemisthus  Pletho,  the  philosopher,  in  one  of  the  new  tombs 
283 


284  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

that  Messer  Leon  Battista  had  built  under  the  arches  that 
surround  the  Temple,  carving  on  the  marble  this  inscription 
in  antique  letters : 

IEMISTII.  BYZANTII.  PHILOSOPHI.  SUA.  TEMP. 
PRINCIPIS.   RELIQUUM. 

SIGISMUNDUS.  PANDULFUS.   MAL.  PAN.  F.  BELLI. 
PELOP.  ADVERSUS.   TURCOR. 

REGEM.  IMP.  OB.  INGENTEM.   ERUDITORUM.  QUO. 
FLAGRAT.  AMOREM. 

HUG  AFFERENDUM  INTROQUE.   MITTEDUM  CURAVIT. 
MCCCCLXV. 

Now  the  Pope  Paul  II.  was  glad  of  Sigismondo's  return, 
for  he  feared  the  Venetians  might  have  seized  Rimini  in  his 
absence,  nor  was  he  without  hope,  as  it  proved,  to  benefit 
himself  by  Sigismondo's  presence. 

But  Sigismondo  dreamed  only  of  his  lost  dominion.  Think- 
ing therefore  to  flatter  him  (though  at  the  time  we  guessed 
it  not)  hoping  against  hope  for  the  return  of  his  Lordship, 
and  knowing  the  love  of  glory  and  honour  which  possessed 
our  Lord,  he  bade  him  come  to  Rome  in  May  1466,  there 
to  receive  the  Rose  of  blessed  gold  in  reward  for  his 
fatigue  and  risks  in  the  Morea  in  the  war  he  led  against 
the  infidels.  How  can  I  describe  the  magnificence  with 
which  he  was  received  in  Rome,  the  noble  gifts,  the 
splendid  triumph  in  which  he  was  conducted  from  the 
Pope's  palace  to  his  lodging,  followed  by  all  the  Cardinals 
and  Prelates  of  the  Court,  the  glory  and  the  trumpets  ? 
It  seemed  on  that  spring  day  that  the  ancient  and  eternal 
City  had  roused  her  dead  to  greet  him;  that  the  melan- 
choly, noble,  and  secret  tombs  of  the  heroes  had  thrown 
wide  their  doors  that  the  ancients  might  do  him  honour ;  that 
from  the  throats  of  the  almost  fabulous  princes  of  old  a  shout 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  285 

might  rise  to  welcome  him  among  his  ancestors,  Scipio 
Africanas  and  the  rest,  who  had  flung  back  the  barbarians,  the 
enemies  of  the  Latin  people. 

Thus  he  rode  as  a  hero  through  the  city  in  which  his 
image  had  been  burned.  Too  short,  too  short  was  that  brief 
triumph,  passing  as  the  passing  of  the  day  into  the  night,  that 
has  lost  the  sun,  and  is  splendid  only  with  the  shadow  of  his 
glory. 

Was  it  indeed  as  a  welcome  from  the  illustrious  dead  that 
I  had  seemed  to  hear  the  ancient  heroes  greet  my  Lord? 
Was  it  in  truth  really  as  a  splendid  procession  leading  him 
towards  immortal  life  under  the  triumphal  arch  of  the  grave 
that  they  had  gathered  about  him  on  that  spring  day  and 
led  him  through  the  ancient  city  ? 

Who  knows  what  mysterious  honours  are  given  to  him 
who  has  built  up  a  Temple  to  the  Omnipotent  God,  and  in 
linked  sweetness  has  bound  together  the  joy  of  Apollo  and 
the  tears  of  Jesus  !  Who  knows  what  may  be  in  store  for  him 
who  has  thought  to  reconcile  the  love  of  Madonna,  whose  son 
was  Love,  and  the  love  of  Aphrodite  whose  son  was  Love 
also  ?  And  he  who  has  held  in  his  hands  and  hidden  under  his 
pillow  the  dust  of  the  last  disciple  of  Plato  is  already  more 
than  a  man,  and  has  tasted  the  ambrosia  of  the  immortal 
Gods  that  on  Zion  and  Olympus  rule  and  order  the  world, 
and  influence  and  inform  the  hearts  of  men. 

Ah !  was  that  Triumph  indeed  a  ahout  of  welcome  torn 
from  the  throats  of  the  dead  who  knew  for  once  a  brother  ? 
Who  knows  ? 

For  even  on  the  very  eve  of  this  triumph,  in  heaven  his 
death  was  signed. 

Before  we  left  the  everlasting  City  the  Pope  sent  for  us, 
and  spoke  very  earnestly  to  us  of  the  danger  that  threatened 
us  from  Venice,  so  that  Sigismondo  was  persuaded,  no  long 


286  SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA 

time  after  to  beg  the  Republic  to  allow  him  to  recall  his  own 
troops  and  to  dismiss  theirs.  And  they  gave  him  leave. 

When  this  was  accomplished,  still  hoping,  as  he  ever  did, 
to  regain  his  lordship  rather  by  good  will  than  by  force,  he 
told  the  Pope  what  he  had  done,  who  bade  him  come  again 
to  Rome.  Nothing  doubting  that  indeed  at  last  he  was 
about  to  receive  back  his  dominions,  in  part  at  least,  he 
went  thither  hastily  to  throw  himself  at  the  feet  of  His 
Holiness,  who,  instead  of  returning  him  his  lordship,  hinted 
that  while  he  was  yet  alive  he  should  cede  Rimini  to  the 
Church. 

Shall  I  ever  forget  that  day  when  I,  waiting  my  Lord  in 
the  ante-room,  saw  him  return  to  me  as  pale  as  a  dead  man,  his 
face  like  marble  stone  ?  Surely  it  was  then  that  the  first  herald 
came  to  us  from  the  ghostly  kingdom  warning  him  to  depart. 
In  haste  we  sent  to  Rimini,  bidding  Isotta  guard  herself, 
bidding  her  send  to  Venice  for  the  old  garrison  for  we  had 
no  troops  of  our  own.  And  she,  worthy  alone  of  our  Lord, 
pawned  her  jewels  and  all  the  beautiful  things  of  happiness 
for  ten  thousand  ducats,  called  Salustio  from  Ferrara,  and 
placed  herself  on  guard.1 

Indeed  from  this  time  Sigismondo  left  all  the  cares  of 
Government  in  the  wise,  unhasty  hands  of  Madonna  Isotta, 
himself  looking  where  he  might  find  employment  for  his  sons, 
which  truly  was  all  that  was  left  him. 

I  can  never  forget  these  long,  weary,  anxious  days  of 
poverty  and  feverish  distress,  in  which  my  Lord  sat  silent  for 
hours  in  the  Rocca,  listlessly  turning  the  pages  of  Petrarch  or 
eagerly  planning  how  he  might  complete  the  Temple  or  per- 
suade the  Pope  to  render  him  his  dominion. 

But  the  Pope  had   set    his    heart   on    Rimini.     In  this 

1  Battaglini,  op.  cit.  ii.  541,  suggests  that  Isotta  had  an  understanding 
with  Venice  that  Salustio  was  to  succeed  Sigismondo  instead  of  Roberto, 
the  Pope's  protege. 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  287 

cause  he  sent  to  us  the  Lord  of  Camerino,  to  whom  he  pro- 
mised certain  castles  if  he  could  persuade  Sigismondo  to  give 
Rimini  spontaneously  to  the  Church,  and  in  return  he  was 
to  offer  us  the  Vicariate  of  Foligno  and  Spoleto,  which,  as 
he  said,  were  richer  than  our  own. 

It  was  a  summer  morning  when  the  Lord  of  Camerino 
came  on  this  embassy ;  yet  for  all  the  sun  was  shining  my 
heart  was  full  of  foreboding.  What  indeed  could  the  Pope 
want  with  us,  save  to  ask  of  us  our  all.  I  was  roused  from 
these  gloomy  thoughts  in  the  ante-room  where  I  was  waiting 
by  the  joyful  glad  voice  of  Sigismondo. 

"  Piero,  Piero,  come  here ;  here  is  news  indeed  ! "  It 
seemed  to  me  then  that  it  was  the  voice  of  a  young  man  I 
heard. 

"  Where  is  Isotta  ?  Where  is  Madonna  ? "  he  asked  as  1 
entered.  "See,  Piero,  my  friend,  here  is  Varani  from  the 
Pope  with  the  offer  of  Foligno  and  Spoleto.  Surely  we 
will  requite  the  kindness  of  His  Holiness  with  most  excellent 
services.  Ah !  speak  to  him,  my  Piero,  while  I  bring 
Madonna." 

"  A  moment,  a  moment,"  said  Varani  deprecatingly. 
"Hear  me  out,  Signore,  and  you,  Messer  Piero,  hear  me 
out,  I  say." 

"What  need  to  hear  more,  caro  Signore?  you  have 
given  us  the  best  news  we  have  heard  for  many  a  day. 
Talk  to  him,  Piero,  while  I  tell  Madonna." 

"  Listen,  1  beg  of  you,  Signore,"  Varani  continued,  truly 
with  tears  in  his  eyes.  "  My  work  has  been  done  vilely ;  truly 
I  shall  not  hope  to  excuse  myself.  Listen,"  he  went  on 
gravely,  almost  beseechingly.  "  It  is  not  altogether  as  a 
free  gift  that  these  cities  are  offered." 

"  Not  altogether  as  a  free  gift  ? " 

"  Not  altogether  as  a  free  gift,  not  altogether." 

"  His  Holiness  requires  some  service  of  us,  some  tribute  ? 


288  SIGISMONDO    MALATESTA 

Of  course,  it  shall  be  paid.     Tell  Piero  of  it ;  I  must  bring 
Madonna." 

"  Signer  Sigismondo,  I  beseech  you  to  hear  me  out.  You 
have  most  grievously  misunderstood  me.  I  fear  me  much 
that,  through  my  bungling,  this  embassy  is  like  to  prove  of 
no  account.  To  be  brief,  His  Holiness  offers  you  Foligno 
and  Spoleto  in  exchange  for  this  your  city  of  Rimini." 

"  In  exchange  for  Rimini  ? "  said  Sigismondo,  deathly  pale 
at  last,  coming  towards  me,  and  putting  his  arm  on  my 
shoulder.  Just  then  Madonna  Isotta  came  in  and  he  went 
towards  her,  and  took  her  by  the  hand.  "In  exchange  for 
Rimini  ? "  he  said  again  half  to  himself. 

"  Even  so,"  said  Varani,  turning  away. 

There  was  silence  for  a  long  time.  Then  Sigismondo 
still  as  pale  as  death,  began  to  murmur  his  thanks.  It  was 
horrible  to  hear.  He  thanked  His  Holiness  for  this  signal 
honour,  and  especially  that  he  had  chosen  Varani,  his  son- 
in-law,  to  be  his  messenger.  Then  murmuring  still,  but 
scarcely  able  to  contain  himself,  he  said  that  he  had  not 
expected  such  honour ;  that  truly  there  could  be  but  one 
answer  to  such  an  offer ;  that  he  would  not  speak  of  that 
now,  for  he  wished  to  be  at  the  feet  of  His  Holiness  to 
show  his  thanks. 

Then  scarcely  knowing  what  he  did,  he  bade  Varani 
farewell.  As  I  came  out,  for  he  waved  me  away  also,  I 
found  Broglio  ii>  the  ante-chamber  scarcely  less  pale  than 
our  Lord. 

"  This  then  is  the  end,"  said  Broglio. 

When  I  saw  Sigismondo  some  hours  later,  I  saw  that 
Broglio  was  right.  He  was  striding  up  and  down  the  room 
talking  eagerly  to  himself.  Madonna  lay  in  a  chair  weeping 
and  watching  him.  "  He  has  mocked  me,  he  has  mocked 
me ;  I  will  kill  him,"  he  muttered  continually,  then  bunching 
the  fingers  of  his  left  hand  he  would  grip  them  with  his 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  289 

right,  as  he  strode  about  muttering,  laughing,  and  gesticulat- 
ing. When  I  tried  to  rouse  him  out  of  this  dull  rage  he 
bade  me  begone ;  then  as  suddenly  calling  me  to  him  he 
kissed  me,  and  told  me  to  order  horses  for  him,  Broglio, 
three  guards,  and  myself.  "  We  shall  go  to  Rome,"  he  said, 
and  when  Madonna  Isotta  protested  and  begged  him  to  send 
me  alone,  "  We  shall  go  to  Rome." 

We  started  at  dawn. 

Of  that  hasty  journey  I  have  little  to  relate.  We  rode 
silently  for  the  most  part,  and  in  haste.  If  we  stayed,  as  we 
were  forced  to  do,  for  rest,  food,  and  sleep,  Sigismondo  knew 
not  food  nor  rest,  but  continually  strode  up  and  down  in  his 
room  or  by  the  wayside.  He  could  not  be  at  peace.  In  a 
few  days  his  face  was  a  havoc — the  battle  in  his  heart  had 
destroyed  in  it  everything  but  hatred.  Yet  it  was  not  till  the 
very  evening  on  which  we  entered  Rome  that  I  was  afraid. 
It  was  just  as  we  came  in  sight  of  the  city,  beautiful  in  the 
evening  light.  I  was  riding  beside  him.  Suddenly,  from 
under  the  black  velvet  of  his  cloak,  he  drew  a  naked  dagger, 
and,  putting  it  to  his  lips,  he  kissed  it,  saying  to  himself,  as 
though  confirming  a  vow,  and  oblivious  of  my  presence :  "  I 
shall  kill  him." 

That  night,  in  Rome,  as  I  know,  he  closed  not  his 
eyes  in  sleep,  but  sat  at  his  window  looking  over  the 
city. 

On  the  next  day  we  went  to  the  palace.  Truly  we  were 
not  expected,  yet  we  were  admitted  without  surprise.  As 
we  went  in  our  Lord  gave  us  one  order :  "  Do  not,  in  any 
event,  abandon  the  door  of  the  ante-chamber." 

There  we  waited  for  a  long  time,  till  one  came  and 
told  us  that  the  Pope  could  not  receive  our  Lord  that 
day.  Then  I  breathed  again,  for  I  knew  the  plan  was 
hopeless. 

But  Sigismondo  would   not  let   it  be.     More  dead  than 


290  SIGISMONDO    MALATESTA 

alive,  he  returned  to  our  lodging.  Again  he  remained 
standing  all  night  at  the  window  waiting.  He  seemed  to 
count  the  minutes. 

In  the  morning  again  we  went  to  find  the  Pope.  This 
time  we  were  certainly  expected;  we  were  received  with 
ceremony.  Then  at  last  the  great  door  was  thrown  open  and 
Sigismondo  was  admitted.  The  Pope  received  him  in  full 
conclave.  He  strode  into  the  midst  of  the  room,  straight 
towards  the  Pope ;  for  a  moment  he  stood  motionless,  then 
he  realised  his  helplessness,  and  already  I  had  seen  the  glint 
of  swords  under  the  scarlet  of  the  Cardinals.  Half  turning 
on  his  heel,  as  though  to  escape,  he  swayed  slightly,  and  then, 
just  as  I  was  about  to  rush  to  save  him  (but  Broglio  seized 
me  by  the  arm),  he  pulled  out  his  dagger  and  flung  it  at  the 
Pope's  feet,  falling  on  his  knees. 

What  he  said  I  know  not,  nor  does  it  matter  what  the 
Pope  replied. 

After  a  time  we  found  ourselves  in  the  narrow  streets  of 
Rome  seeking  our  lodging.  .  .  . 

Then  we  started  for  Rimini.  It  seems  that  the  Pope, 
seeing  he  would  never  obtain  Rimini  willingly  from  Sigis- 
mondo, and  afraid  to  take  it  by  force,  had  confirmed  him  in 
the  possession  of  it.  What  was  this  confirmation  worth  ? 
Nothing,  as  Sigismondo  knew.  Yet  he  seemed  to  be 
comforted. 

But  the  strain  of  that  week  of  anguish,  the  terrible  rage, 
anger,  and  fever  of  murder  that  had  torn  his  heart,  was  too 
much  for  him;  after  the  illness  he  had  suffered  in  Morea, 
his  body  and  his  spirit  could  not  bear  this  new  blow.  On  the 
way  home  he  fell  sick  and  was  already  dying.  In  Rimini  he 
lay  ill  for  many  days.  Yet  he  recovered,  only  an  immense 
weariness  seemed  to  have  overwhelmed  him ;  for  some  time 
he  led  a  few  men  for  His  Holiness  in  the  Kingdom ;  but  he 
was  a  dying  man,  and  he  knew  it.  So  when  winter  came  he 


SIGISMONDO    MALATESTA  291 

returned  to  Rimini,  to  Madonna  Isotta,  really,  as  he  told  us, 
to  die. 

All  his  thought  now  was  for  these  three  things:  the 
future  of  Isotta,  the  succession  of  Salustio,  and  the  completion 
of  his  Temple.  All  that  he  could  do  he  did,  but  Death 
would  not  be  denied.  All  his  life  he  had  struggled  for  his 
dominion,  and  so  it  is  not  surprising  that  his  last  thoughts 
were  concerned  with  it.  In  early  summer  he  grew  worse, 
yet  every  day  he  fought  for  life,  for  he  feared  what  might 
befall  when  he  was  dead. 

And  at  last,  on  yth  October  1468,  holding  my  hand,  for 
of  a  truth  we  loved  one  another,  he  breathed  his  last  in  the 
arms  of  Isotta. 


XXVI 

(From  Another  Hand) 

AMONG  the  books  and  manuscripts  in  this  Villa  of  Signer 
Lorenzo's,  no  long  time  since  I  happened  upon  this  bundle 
of  papers,  which  I  have  read  at  last.  It  seems  to  me  it 
contains  nothing  of  any  great  importance — nothing,  that  is, 
which  is  not  known  already,  and  this  certainly  gains  nothing 
in  freshness  or  interest  from  the  rambling  method  of  old 
Sanseverino. 

As  for  him,  he  came  to  Florence  on  the  death  of  Madonna 
Isotta;  and  our  Lorenzo,  with  his  usual  prodigality,  took 
him  into  his  house.  I  believe  he  was  supposed  to  read 
Greek  with  the  children  of  his  Magnificence,  but  I  think  they 
were  rather  his  buffoncelll^  that,  instead  of  instructing  them, 
he  treated  them  as  companions,  and  since  they  had  ex- 
cellent voices,  and  the  old  scholar  was  fond  of  music,  he  took 
great  delight  in  hearing  them  sing,  and  play  on  various 
instruments ;  often  indeed  I  have  heard  them  thus  at  work 
in  the  gardens. 

However  this  may  be,  it  was  among  them  that  he  died, 
not  long  ago.  For  one  evening,  just  before  Ave  Maria,  our 
Lorenzo,  with  Poliziano,  Pico  della  Mirandola,  some  few 
ladies,  and  myself,  came  upon  them  all,  sleeping,  as  we 
thought,  under  the  olives  stirring  in  the  evening  breeze. 
The  youngest  child  lay  in  his  arms,  his  curls  scattered  over 
the  old  man's  breast ;  the  two  elder  held  each  a  hand,  and 
Madonnina  had  her  head  on  his  knees.  Thus  they  lay. 
But  when  we  went  to  awaken  them  we  found  the  old  man 

292 


SIGISMONDO   MALATESTA  293 

dead— death  having  found  him  as  he  said  his  astrologer 
told  him  it  would  do,  "  hand-in-hand  with  youth."  Lorenzo 
was  somewhat  disturbed  at  this  strange  thing,  wondering 
what  it  might  mean;  but  Pico  bade  Poliziano  lead  the 
children  away,  and  then  having  kissed  the  old  man,  lifted 
him  in  his  arms,  and  bore  him  to  the  Villa,  for  he  loved  him. 
He  was  buried  at  dawn. 

Certainly  Sanseverino  must  have  led  a  curiously  uncertain 
life,  full  of  change  and  adventure.  His  manuscript,  which  he 
says  is  modelled  on  the  work  of  Marcus  Aurelius,  is  not  in 
the  smallest  degree  like  the  work  of  the  stoic  Emperor.  It 
is  an  artless  chronicle  of  the  wars  of  Sigismondo  Mala- 
testa.  His  estimate  of  that  Lord  is  too  high,  his  judgment 
too  favourable.  Yet  I  can  well  believe  that  Sigismondo 
caught  a  man's  love,  and  especially  the  devotion  of  one  so 
simple  as  this  old  scholar.  Pico  said  of  him  that  his  chief 
characteristic  was  innocency  of  heart.  Certainly  the  corrupt 
Lord  of  Rimini  seems  to  have  passed  him  by  scatheless.  I 
have  heard  that  in  his  youth  he  loved  Isotta  before  Sigis- 
mondo looked  on  her;  but  of  this  his  papers  give  no  hint, 
unless  indeed  the  fact  that  he  ends  with  her  name  may  be 
said  to  mean  anything;  but  as  his  manuscript  is  obviously 
unfinished  this  goes  for  nothing. 

Since  reading  his  Chronicle  I  have  thought  it  best  to 
inquire  concerning  Madonna  Isotta  and  what  happened  in 
Rimini  on  Sigismondo's  death.  The  result  of  my  curiosity  I 
shall  set  down  here  as  briefly  as  I  may. 

Sigismondo,  as  he  had  desired,  was  succeeded  by  Isotta 
who  held  Rimini  for  her  son  Salustio ;  not  without  fear,  as 
it  proved,  for  Roberto  was,  as  Sanseverino  records,  already 
friends  with  Urbino  and  the  Pope.  It  was  not  long  before 
he  set  out  to  win  the  city,  for  himself,  as  it  proved — for  the 
Church,  as  he  said.  Once  within  the  walls  he  first  befriended 
Isotta,  finding  her  too  strong  in  the  affections  of  the  crowd 


294  SIGISMONDO    MALATESTA 

for  him  to  oppose  her  openly.  For  this  wise  forbearance, 
however,  he  lost  the  Pope's  love,  though  Federigo  of  Urbino 
understood  his  game  and  remained  his  friend,  even  betrothing 
his  daughter  to  him. 

Paul  II.,  however,  soon  came  to  die,  and  was  succeeded  by 
that  traitor,  della  Rovere  Sixtus  IV.,  who  was  the  friend  of  all 
conspirators. 

How  it  happened  no  one  is  sure  (though,  knowing  the  race, 
we  may  guess  the  manner  easily  enough),  but  on  8th  August 
1470  Salustio  was  found  dead  in  a  well  belonging  to  the  March- 
eselli  in  Rimini.  Some  suspicion  attached  for  a  time  to  this 
family,  for  a  bloody  sword  was  found  near  their  house,  not  far 
away;  but  no  man  really  believed  the  murderer  to  be  other  than 
Roberto,  for  within  the  year  Isotta  died  also,  inexplicably,  of 
a  slow  fever  as  it  was  said,  but  of  poison  as  was  believed — 
Valerio,  her  second  son,  being  openly  slain  by  Roberto  not 
long  after. 

Of  the  career  of  Roberto  I  say  nothing,  for  many  and 
obvious  reasons;  nor  should  I  have  added  aught  to  San- 
severino's  manuscript,  but  that  some  curious  reader,  a  stranger 
perhaps,  or  one  not  yet  born,  may  desire  to  know  the  fate  of 
the  "divine  Isotta." 

Thus  it  befell;  and  now  Sanseverino  also  is  departed. 
Certainly  God  owed  a  peaceful  death  to  this  old  man,  whose 
claims  on  my  notice  are  that  our  Lorenzo  befriended  him  and 
Pico  of  Mirandola  loved  him  well;  though  I  confess  I  ever 
found  him  as  full  of  dreams  as  Madonna  Giulia  is  full  of 
songs.  I  say  no  more,  for  here  she  cometh  singing. 


NOTE 

The  friendly  reader — and  I  am  reluctant  to  remember  any  other — 'will 
perhaps  pardon  a  •word  of  explanation  as  to  the  intention  of  this  book.  For 
the  vision  ivas  so  splendid,  and  now  that  the  book  is  finished  IJear  lest  I 
have  fallen  so  far  short  of  it  that  those  'who  read,  hurriedly  at  any  rate,  ivill 
not  see  what  I  have  seen.  A  great  love  of  Italy  (and  again  the  reader 
must  pardon  me  if  I  venture  to  bring  myself  into  the  argument,  for  all  that 
is  best  in  me  is  hers  who  gave  me  sight  and  with  whom  I  first  saw  the 
sun)  is  perhaps  able  to  blind  us  to  the  futility  and  uselessness  of  those  petty 
wars  which,  materially  at  any  rate,  go  to  make  up  the  history  of  her  Quattro- 
cento. How  ineffectual  they  are,  hovj  dull !  it  might  seem  to  be  scarcely 
worth  any  one's  while  to  recount  the  ebb  and  flow  of  a  campaign  in  a  place 
so  unimportant,  so  far  away,  as  the  Marche  or  Romagna,  'where  victor 
and  vanquished  are  both  really  of  very  little  account,  where  no  war  ever 
seems  really  to  end  or  to  have  any  result  'whatever.  TTet  I  think,  indeed, 
any  true  lover  of  that,  our  second  Fatherland,  cannot  but  be  moved  by  every 
agony  through  'which  she  passed  'while  she  gave  us  light  and  life  and  all 
those  precious  things  which  we  hold  dearer  to-day  perhaps  than  ever 
before,  since  their  worth  is  beginning  to  be  questioned.  But  indeed  she 
who  'was  ever  the  head  and  front  of  the  'world,  who  taught  all  our  poets 
to  sing,  even  from  Chaucer  to  Swinburne,  and  'who,  after  countless  and 
splendid  battles,  raised  again  her  standard  in  the  most  glorious  and 
immortal  struggle  of  our  own  time,  needs  no  excuse.  It  is  my  book,  that 
may  be,  I  must  explain.  It  is  an  experiment.  I  had  set  myself  to  write 
fact  as  fiction.  I  had  wished  to  give  an  impression  of  the  first  part  of 
the  fifteenth  century  'without  using  a  single  incident  that  'was  not  authenti- 
cated: to  write  the  life  of  one  of  those  Tyrants  who,  without  morality, 
without  honour,  without  purity,  or  justice,  yet  in  some  sort  did  us  signal 
service  in  a  'way  no  one  else  perhaps  could  have  done.  It  would  have  been  , 
easy  for  a  scholar,  an  historian  like  Creighton^or  Von  Reumont,  or  Burck- 
hardt  to  write  a  monograph  on  Sigismondo,full  of  information  and  know- 
ledge;  and  indeed  Monsieur  Triarte  has  done  something  of  this  sort  in 
his  "  Un  Condottiere  au  XV"'ne  Siecle,"  to  which  I  am  indebted,  especially 
295 


296  NOTE 

for  the  poems  of  Sigismondo.  But  I  am  not  a  scholar,  and  if  I  had  been, 
seeing  that  Monsieur  Triarte's  book  'was  in  existence,  I  could  have  hoped  but 
to  correct  his  slips  of  the  pen  here  and  there,  and  to  tell  again  the  mere  facts. 
Again,  it  'would  have  been  as  easy  as  a  bird's  flight  for  a  romance  writer, 
an  artist  in  exterior  beauty  and  in  *war,  such  as  Sir  Walter  Scott,  to 
have  written  a  splendid  novel  round  Sigismondo,  a  sort  of  poetic  com- 
mentary on  history  in  'which  the  mere  fact  'would  never  for  a  moment 
have  been  permitted  to  outweigh  or  to  kill  the  romance.  For  me  both  these 
methods  seemed  impossible,  not  altogether  because  they  were  beyond  my 
strength.  What  I  wished  to  do  was  to  write  the  life  of  Sigismondo 
with  perfect  loyalty  to  the  facts  of  his  life  and  of  the  time,  so  far  as  I  could 
find  them  out,  omitting  nothing,  writing  really  with  all  the  integrity  of 
the  historian,  his  loyalty  to  the  historic  sense,  and  yet  contriving  that  the 
book,  good  or  bad,  should  not  be  a  work  of  science,  but  a  work  of  art ;  that 
the  facts  should  live,  so  that  they  might  become  more  than  facts,  and  take 
on  something  of  the  vitality  of  fictitious  things.  This  is  what  I  have  tried 
to  do  (and  indeed  I  have  set  down  nothing  I  'would  not  have  'written  in 
an  historical  or  controversial  'work),  and  though  I  may  have  failed  altogether 
that  is  how  my  book  should  be  read. 

And,  in  order  to  'write  such  a  book  as  I  have  described,  I  bound  myself 
by  rules  'which,  as  I  believe,  'were  only  'wings  in  hiding.  J  invented 
Sanseverino :  all  his  life  is  a  tale — tutta  e  una  frasca — he  is  the  fiction 
which  speaks  my  truth,  and  from  his  mouth  you  may  know  clearly  the  fact 
from  the  lie — those  incidents  of  Sigismondo' 's  boyhood,  for  instance,  which 
he  tells  only  from  hearsay,  and  such-like  inventions.  Yet  when  he  tells 
you  of  a  pageant,  though  the  pageant  of  which  he  speaks  may  be  true  or  not, 
a  pageant  there  was,  as  Broglio  and  Clementmi  'will  assure  you  if  you  care 
to  turn  to  them  for  corroboration.  If  this  explanation  makes  clearer  the 
intention  of  my  book,  I  am  glad — yet  I  hope  indeed,  and  believe,  that  the  book 
explains  itself,  for  it  was  meant  to  be  read  for  delight. 

E.H. 


BINDING  SECT.     AU6  2  1  1981 


PLEASE  DO  NOT  REMOVE 
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UNIVERSITY  OF  TORONTO  LIBRARY 


Hutt  on ,   Edward 

Sigismondo  Pandolfo  Malatesta, 
Lord  of  Rimini